When we posted John’s profile on Watsi, he needed surgery to remove a tumor on his lower back and restore sensation to his lower body.
We just heard from a staff member at African Mission Healthcare Foundation who said, “I saw John yesterday and he was walking!”
When we posted John’s profile on Watsi, he needed surgery to remove a tumor on his lower back and restore sensation to his lower body.
As of today, Watsi donors have given a total of $100,000 for 100+ life-changing medical treatments in 10 countries around the world!
View more stats in the new “Metrics” tab on our public transparency document here:
Last week, Bill Boulden, a New York DJ with 17,654 Twitter followers, started tweeting about Watsi.
We reached out to him to find out what he likes about Watsi, and he had some pretty amazing stuff to say.
1. How did you first hear about Watsi?
I first heard about Watsi through the Y Combinator blog.
2. What made you donate on Watsi versus another donation platform/charity?
There are several things that makes giving to Watsi more fulfilling than the average charitable cause. Putting a face on it always helps, for sure; I also like how I can be confident none of the money is being wasted. When I am asked to give money to a charity that I see running advertisements or employing outreach people, I understand the necessity of that, but it makes me painfully aware that some of my money is going back to ad placements and gas mileage and more. Totally unavoidable but quite regrettable. Where Watsi really stole my heart was with the knowledge that 100% of my contribution is going directly to the problem with no auxiliary costs.
3. What was your favorite thing about donating to a patient on Watsi?
Knowing that due to the imbalance of the power of currency around the world, my trivial dollars here are life-changing dollars there. It is unfortunate that we live in such a world where the relative worth of a dollar varies so radically across the globe, that a flavor shot in your cappucino here is a family’s dinner elsewhere; and yet, that is what makes Watsi work and is so enticing. Contrast…ten couples here have to skip Applebee’s for a night, that somewhere else, actual BLINDNESS or DEAFNESS or DISABILITY is cured. I can not see a more wonderful exchange.
4. Do you have a reason to care especially about health issues?
No, I actually don’t! Health is one of the most important things in life but other issues are important too. I could see giving to a cause for other purposes as long as it was still as transparent, honest, and straightforward as Watsi.
5. Where do you hope to see Watsi in 5 years?
I would like to see Watsi, in five years, having introduced such a sweeping change in how we understand healthcare in underdeveloped countries that it is less necessary than it is today. I would hope for a world where multiculturalism, understanding, and goodwill towards fellow man has continued to increase, as it has for all the second half of the 20th century and onward, to continually lessen the need for such treatments. Five years is perhaps not a reasonable timeframe; in five years I would simply like to see Watsi bigger. But in fifty? I’m a dreamer.
6. If you could tell one thing to a Watsi patient you’ve supported, what would it be?
"I’m sorry that this world is unfair and that who you came out of, in this lottery, which human being you were born to and in what part of the world, could so drastically change the rules for your health care. I am sorry that I was lucky enough to come out of the womb of an upper-middle-class American mother in a community where I wanted for very little, and when I had bad eyes and appendicitis and colon problems and my brother was attacked by an animal, these things were all fixed for us at a trivial cost, but because you, while every inch as equally valid as a human being as I am, came out in an underdeveloped community in a more remote part of the world, fixing these same things for you is months or years of reasonable wages, if available at all. That isn’t fair. I don’t know what I did right and you did wrong to have it be like this. But Watsi has made it possible for me to sacrifice almost nothing, so that you can be restored of elements of your health that are worth almost everything."
7. Where do you live?
I live in Buffalo, New York. Born & raised.
8. What do you do for work?
I am by day a Level 3 Senior Engineer & Project Manager at an Internet Advertising firm in Buffalo. I develop and manage systems for efficiently serving billions of advertisements across the net every week, as well the user interfaces and financial systems that support them.
9. What are your passions, hobbies, or interests outside of work?
Music. I am a part-time singer/songwriter/producer/recording engineer/independent record label/DJ called Spruke, based out of Buffalo, where I make upbeat & introspective synthpop as well as some nerdcore rap.
Magic: the Gathering. See the abovementioned nerdcore rap ;)
Racquetball. It’s like clown tennis! All the fun of other racquet sports but given to crazy plays and sometimes absurd things can happen.
Meeting people with experiences very different from my own so that I can fully appreciate how many different ways there are to live this life.
10. What inspires you?
Thinking about how crazy it is that we are all here in the first place and what we are supposed to do with this “existence” stuff that’s been thrust upon us, so simultaneously rudely & wonderfully.
11. Words to live by?
The quote I live my life by is “Be the greatest possible version of yourself you can envision.” I take this to mean, if I could close my eyes, and redesign myself like I had God’s photoshop paintbrush, what would that person be like? Then you know what it is you want to do with your life that day! My perfect me enjoys the simpler things in life like the company of friends, does not need so much of his own when others have so little, is understanding and respectful of other people’s experiences in this world, and maybe makes the world a better place by contributing beauty in the form of music that some people might appreciate. I can never be that person because we are all human and imperfect, yet now I know what it is that I need to shoot for. I can try, and, in failing, be a better person than I was before. And Watsi helps with half of those elements of the imagined “greatest me.”
Why do you Watsi? We’d love to know! Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us why.
…And that’s how I found myself pushing intravenous narcotics in a jeep on the side of the road.
Oh wait, perhaps I should start at the beginning.
The beginning is a small, open cook fire; a feature that every home in this region has. In the cold winter months, most people spend more time in the kitchen, and huddle a little bit closer to the fire. Sometimes too close. This week alone, we have had 5 children in our inpatient department (IPD) with severe burns, one of whom passed away.
The little girl who this story is about was more fortunate, though she has a long and painful recovery ahead of her. When her clothes caught fire, she suffered 2nd degree deep burns from her mid-abdomen to mid-thighs. Her family brought her to the nearest healthcare facility, which could not treat her injuries. Her mother then carried her for two days to reach the hospital.
The little girl’s name is Dila, and even with daily dressing changes, antibiotics, fluids, and observation, it was clear that her wounds needed advanced treatment. Barring infection her burns may eventually heal on their own, but even so, the resulting scar tissue would cause severe contracture, limiting her mobility and posing lifelong challenges.
This is where Watsi, a fantastic organization that allows people to directly donate to an individual patient’s treatment, enters the picture. Dila’s family had no way of paying for advanced treatment, much less the multiple days of travel required to travel to a major city that they had never seen. In less than a day following the posting of her profile on the Watsi site, 13 donors from around the world changed Dila’s destiny. They provided her with the means to seek treatment; a fighting chance to grow up and live a normal life. Thus began our journey together.
As Dila was having her dressings changed, Ryan and I were packing our bags in preparation for our departure from Achham. Having received word that Dila’s profile was complete, her mother carried her, freshly bandaged, to our waiting jeep. The doctor handed me a syringe of morphine and asked if I knew how to push meds. I do now. Though 25% of her body is covered in severe burns, the only sounds Dila made throughout our winding, bumpy, 12-hour jeep ride were a few slight whimpers when we hit extra large ruts in the road. She only cried when I came near to give her medications; afraid that I might be trying to change her dressings. The rest of the time she lay there in complete, stoic silence.
The next day, we made our way to the airport, where Dila and her mother had to board a different plane than ours, as they had received last-minute tickets. Neither of them had even flown before, and I spent a moment reflecting on the injustice of a small girl being too badly injured to be able to look out the window on the world from above. The important thing though, was making sure that she was comfortable during the flight, and that she and her mother did not feel lost in the Kathmandu airport when they arrived. I fumbled with my limited Nepali phrases, all semblance of grammatical correctness lost, but managed to convey a few simple messages. After giving her one last dose of pain medicine, and hoping that she would sleep soundly through the flight, I stood on the runway and watched their plane set off, carrying them at hundreds of miles per hour toward a strange, new place. A place where Dila’s future has more options than infection versus contracture. A place where the technology exists to treat her injuries. A place of hope.
Dila underwent the first of multiple skin graft surgeries two days ago. Her condition is stable, and she still lies quietly in a hospital bed, waiting to see what comes next.
Jesse Brady is Director of Research and Advocacy at Nyaya Health, our Medical Partner in Achham, Nepal. Jesse manages various healthcare implementation research initiatives at Nyaya, but also has a passion for patient accompaniment and storytelling.
Few pairings of words so perfectly describe what excites us.
Has there ever existed an orator as great as Martin Luther King, Jr.? Take 5 minutes and listen. Impossible not to feel inspired and hopeful.
This month, after working on Watsi as a part-time passion project for almost a year, three of us (Chase, Jesse, and Grace) quit our jobs to work on Watsi full-time.
We’ve taken over a house in Silicon Valley and dubbed it the Watsi HQ. We’re waking up at 6am to Skype with hospitals in Kenya and going to sleep at 2am dreaming of funding medical treatments for millions of patients in need.
We’re putting every ounce of energy we have into this organization because we believe that every person in the world deserves access to basic medical care. We’ve already funded medical treatments for 60 people around the world, and we won’t stop until we reach a million.
Are you in?
Meet the new patients on Watsi: https://watsi.org/fund-treatments
I am writing you this simply to congratulate you. I am just an average citizen, from Portugal. Someone who sits behind his computer for 8 hours a day, and then some more at home. I may have dreams of impacting the world, but am realistically aware of my limitations. Today I made my first contribution to a patient on your site. It was small, probably not even a proportionate effort, but hopefully I’ll contribute more in the future.
I’ve never been that much into charity before. There’s something about people asking you for money that just brings up walls around you, almost immediately. I’m sure most people are like me in this regard, unfortunately. They may give to charity, or contribute in some way, but maybe they do it out of guilt, which I believe is a very poor motivation. But then there are people that *truly* make a difference. What you have done with Watsi is nothing short of amazing. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but I’m going to say it anyway.
I first heard about it in Hacker News, and the response there was incredible. I had to check it out. My first feeling resonated with what was being said. The site is clean, honest, and straight to the point: “Here’s the story of these people. They can be helped. These many people helped them. You can to. Here’s a link.” It’s a simple but uncommon concept. You’re not asking for money, you’re asking for investments in the happiness and well being of these people! And then there’s a fact that the donor *knows* he is making a difference. I mean, you get a progress bar and everything!
Just to summarize: Great job! Sincere wishes for growth and continued success.
Building a startup is tough. There is so much to do and never enough time to do it. As a result, we often have to compromise when making important decisions.
Take the color palette of our site for example. Deciding on the palette was a big decision that would ultimately impact all of our users.
How did we decide on the palette? Did we conduct a user survey, or research the various emotions different colors elicit? Nope. We didn’t have time. After asking a few friends their opinions, we made the executive decision to go with blue and grey. Why? Because we liked blue, and because grey seemed to go well with blue. And after all, Facebook is blue, and they’re successful, so it must be the best color.
This line of reasoning isn’t all that bad. Time is our most important resource, and we can’t afford to endlessly deliberate over every decision.
But this is a slippery slope. Far too often we’ve been guilty of simply copying what other startups do, and assuming (often incorrectly) that the startups we’re copying have inferred all their decisions, when in fact most of them (whether they’ll admit it or not) probably chose to go with blue, because, well… Facebook.
When we were designing the patient profiles on Watsi’s homepage, due to some miscommunication, Jesse truncated the promotion text instead of generating standalone promotion text. So instead of “John needs heart surgery” we had “John needs heart…”
I was a little annoyed. Standalone promotion text is surely better than truncated promotion text. Why? Because Kiva, Kickstarter, and virtually every crowdfunding platform on the internet use standalone promotion text. But we were pressed for time, so we decided to leave the truncated text and fix it later.
Last week we fixed the truncated text, and we A/B tested the change using Optimizely to see how much better the standalone text performed.
The results? The standalone text saw a 35% decrease in click-throughs.
We couldn’t believe it. Our ugly truncated text, which was the result of a miscommunication, actually performed significantly better than the standalone text used by virtually every other crowdfunding platform on the internet.
At the rate we’re growing, this small improvement will result in an increase in donations to the order of tens of thousands of dollars for patients in need. It’s certainly not trivial.
This was a valuable lesson for us. Moving forward, we’re not going to assume anything. And we’re not going to blindly copy other startups no matter how busy we get. Instead, we’re going to test everything.
Look for some exciting things from Watsi.org in the future, perhaps even a rainbow logo, because, well… why not?