ECN had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Rasha Morsi, an associate professor at the Center for Gaming Simulation at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. She had originally contacted ECN in an attempt to pursue a naming opportunity at Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE). As we learned more about her background and intention in pursuing the naming opportunity, we discovered that Dr. Morsi and her family have a very special story to tell, one that is worthy of sharing with all.
Dr. Morsi is Egyptian-born, UK-raised, with a specialty in electrical engineering. Her young daughter, Myrna, was diagnosed with multiple ventricular septal defect (VSD) at the tender age of 8 months. Myrna’s case was particularly severe, as she had several holes in her small heart. She underwent multiple surgeries at just under 1 year of age to attempt to close the gaping holes that threatened her life, just barely surviving her surgeries.
By the time she was 5 years old, and now with a healthy heart, young Myrna had a fall that alarmed her family. They took her to the hospital only to discover that, she had idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a blood condition in which the immune system destroys blood platelets. Platelets are necessary for normal blood clotting to take place.
In order to combat this, Myrna was put on intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) treatments until her body became immune in its response. She was then placed temporarily on a newer ITP medicine (Rituximab) used only for adults at the time, seeing overall improvement but still with limited immunity. She continues to receive IVIG infusions on a monthly basis.
Myrna’s experience with her conditions emboldened her, heavily influencing her priorities and goals from a very young age. Motivated by her interest in helping to raise awareness about these issues, Myrna began participating in many school fundraising competitions run by the American Heart Association (AHA). Myrna has raised over $2,000 for AHA thus far, and her younger brother, Kareem, has separately raised $1,300.
Both ECN and its partner, Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE), feature extensive advertising campaigns on Arabic TV channels throughout the world. Dr. Morsi had heard about ECN through such an advertisement and, when mentioning it to her father, she discovered that he had already made a donation to CCHE. Dr. Morsi is consistently careful and deliberate in choosing which organization is deserving of her zakat elmal donations, made annually during the holy month of Ramadan. After seeing one of ECN’s advertisements, she was determined to put her zakat towards ECN’s mission and causes.
She mentioned this to her children, who had seen her working on her donation for a naming opportunity. Dr. Morsi wanted to help children in her native country, based on her background with Myrna and her respective illnesses. Both her children noticed that she was working diligently on the application and promptly decided to contribute. Dr. Morsi and her family now have completed a naming opportunity request for a Waiting Room in the new expansion of CCHE, made in light of Myrna and her family’s experience.
Also notable is that Dr. Morsi, in her professional capacity, focuses on game design and development for her research initiatives. In this field Dr. Morsi has been responsible for developing a myriad of interactive training tools, games and simulations for educational games, including winning a $4 million grant to develop a 3d nurse training program. Because of Myrna’s condition, Dr. Morsi spent much of her times in various medical clinics amongst many sick children who she felt didn’t understand what was happening to them. She was therefore inspired to figure out an enjoyable way to educate these children on the processes occurring in their bodies.
Eventually Dr. Morsi found a niche which she thought she could further develop, inspired by Myrna’s condition and her work on the aforementioned health training tool. In collaboration with her students, Dr. Morsi developed a game called Bloodfeud, an educational game based on informing youth about several of the most common diseases that children suffer from: leukemia, sickle cell anemia and ITP, respectively. Dr. Morsi and her team worked with Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, VA in developing the medical details for the game.
The key for Dr. Morsi in developing this game is that the game is played to accurately depict how the medicine works in the body. Each player has a choice to see how the medicine deals with the illness they choose to combat. This could be especially helpful, Dr. Morsi explained, in helping children who are noncompliant with taking their mediation by encouraging them to do the contrary in thoroughly understanding how taking their medicine benefits them.
Bloodfeud is available for free download for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bloodfeud/id568162520?mt=8. It may soon be available on Android also.
ECN is most grateful to Dr. Morsi and her family for their generous donation to a naming opportunity at CCHE, which will offer the hope for a cure and the gift of recovery to many children in Egypt. Patients will undoubtedly be inspired by the commitment of Myrna, Kareem and their parents to fighting disease and spreading awareness and understanding.