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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

SIGN Fracture Care International

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Surgical Specialties

Mission: Creating equality of fracture care throughout the world.

Results: 180,000 patients healed and 5,000 orthopaedic surgeons educated

Target demographics: Injured people in developing countries

Direct beneficiaries per year: 26,028 patients in developing countries

Geographic areas served: Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America

Programs: We provide orthopaedic education and equipment to surgeons in developing countries. We are helping doctors in difficult circumstances deliver the same quality of care to their patients as we would expect in the United States. Through conferences and one-on-one mentoring, we are giving native surgeons the skills and equipment they need to operate where they are needed most — in their home communities. We design, manufacture, and donate orthopaedic implants so that surgeons can stabilize fractured bones and help their patients heal. The SIGN System is designed for in developing countries, where operating rooms do not have live X-ray equipment, or even reliable electricity. Learn more at www.signfracturecare.org

Community Stories

36 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a member of the PNW Kiwanis it is an honour to support SIGN Fracture care as one of our district projects. So much is done for the poor in the world with so little. I have had the privilege of seeing first hand the great work the doctors do with the SIGN education and product. The best bang for your donation dollars. Ann Penner

Previous Stories
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Donor

Rating: 5

As a PNW Kiwanis member, I am glad to say SIGN Fracture care was chosen as one of our district projects. It truly exemplifies the goal of Kiwanis in serving the children of the world. Through the work of SIGN, many children have been given the opportunity to lead productive lives by providing free surgeries to heal their injuries and heal a parent who is the prime bread winner. Fundraising for SIGN allows service clubs to change lives for as little as $100.00 for a surgery. There is no doubt that monies are spent well; as it maintains one of the largest medical data basis in the world. SIGN provides hope for those who are less fortunate by training local doctors to improve the health care in their own countries.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am always humbled and amazed at the kindness, hard work, and dedication toward the betterment of lives for those who are invisible, the unseen. SIGN Fracture Care International knows no boundaries, has no prejudice. Their staff, the Doctors, board members have compassion and a desire to make a difference, a difference in peoples lives.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

SIGN has been a big part of my Orthopedic practice. I could say that the SIGN nail is my “rod” of choice when it comes to fixing the femur and tibia.

What is great about this implant is that it is FREE! So patients that could not afford the implant gets to go to surgery without the burden of buying expensive implants.

And also, SIGN gave surgeons like me the opportunity to join the SIGN conference. It gave me the chance to get to know other SIGN surgeons from around the globe and learn from their experiences with SIGN.

More power! More years to SIGN!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Thank you very much for the SIGN family for helping us SIGN surgeons thru education and skills development . SIGN bioskills lab is an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD and HELPFUL experience wherein you learn techniques from very good orthopaedic subspecialty surgeons and be able to apply it in my home institutions. KUDOS to SIGN FRACTURE CARE INTERNATIONAL. God bless.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A 42 year old farmer was admitted to our institution in southern Philippines with basically nothing for surgery.
With the help of Sign Fracture care, we was now able to walk with treated leg fracture.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We just moved to the Tri-Cities five years ago and heard about SIGN through our church. Our first experience was being told about the mission of SIGN and reaching the entire world in terms of correcting orthopaedic deformities. We were going to Malawi, and we volunteered to carry equipment to a SIGN Program there.

It was an amazing experience because we took the nails, met the physician, and he showed us what he had done and how he had changed his patient's life by enabling him to walk again. They don't have as much ability for follow up in rural areas, and this got us interested.

We're volunteering at the 2019 SIGN Conference and getting the chance to meet some of the SIGN Surgeons.

Board Member

Rating: 5

It's the 20th anniversary, and I was recently reminded that I was here for the first board meeting in 1999. Over the 20 years, we have sought to identify and meet the needs then addressed it step-wise by learning from surgeons around the world what their needs are on the ground. Then, we evolve to meet those.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I started in Orthopaedics when I was an intern doctor. In my country, there were only two orthopaedic surgeons for a population of 12 miillion people. There were so many people with fractures that those two doctors were overwhelmed. One day, I came across a young lady who had a femur fracture. When my teacher treated her and she began walking the following day, I saw the magic of orthopaedics. She was treated using the SIGN Nail.

Another man was blind and broke his leg. Dr. Zirkle was in South Sudan and helped us treat that patient, and he was taken home walking with crutches. Those are the cases that impress me and give me the courage to become a SIGN Surgeon. SIGN also helps to train me by sending me to Tanzania for training in orthopaedics and trauma. I've spent the last two years treating 6 - 8 patients per week using the SIGN Program.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Because of SIGN fracture care we are able to help thousands of patients in our country and give quality care inspite of financial constraints.our heart felt gratitude from Ethiopia.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Excellent non-profit that benefits the local community and numerous places around the world it reaches. The annual conference is a wonderful opportunity for global SIGN surgeons to share and learn from each other to further the outreach to benefit more and more patients.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

SIGN developed the miraculous IM Nail that can be placed in severe fractures without a C-Arm (X-ray) and has healed 242,000 people in low resource countries. This all transpired because of one man’s determination and passion to carry out the mission of "Equality of Fracture Care throughout the World”. Every person who is a part of SIGN lives this mission daily. SIGN staff members have a passion and sense of urgency to heal the victims of traffic accidents, conflict related injuries, and natural disasters. They all take pride in what they are accomplishing. SIGN continually develops new implants, provides education and collaborative training for the SIGN Surgeons, and explores new technologies that drive efficiencies to reduce costs. Yes - there is Magic happening at SIGN!

Jesse J.2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I came to know about SIGN during my residency training but i became really engaged in it when I was assigned as the coordinator during my 2nd year in residency. The most memorable thing for me is how we managed to increase our follow up rate and maintain in to a good level which helped us reach to more patients in need of implant surgery. Hence, i felt with our partnership with SIGN, we eventually became a family. Never yielding to hardships and just continuously serving for the sake of our patients and the families depending on them. This passion from the SIGN network has created a culture of true service in all of us.

Donor

Rating: 5

SIGN is an amazing organization that supplies orthopedic supplies and education free of charge to under funded hospitals around the globe in order to improve the lives of people who otherwise could not afford medical attention. The people who work for SIGN are inspirational in their complete dedication to their mission. Over the years I have watched the SIGN team work tirelessly recruiting and training new surgeons across the globe, developing more types of implants to better serve their patients, and expanding their reach to more developing counties all the while providing the equipment and services at no cost to the patients. This is an organization that epitomizes humanitarian work.

Daniele S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been working for several year in a hospital in northern Kenya, Samburu County, it is the so called hardship areas, because life is quite hard, due to the arid region hit by drought and to the isolation and the high rate of poverty. Basically the majority of the people are pastoralist taking care of cattles. For all this years orthopedics trauma patients were a big frustration for me. I was constantly seen terrible x ray with sever fracture and my only possibility for these fracture was plaster. Stable fracture, plaster. Unstable fracture, plaster. Comminuted fracture, plaster.I knew very well from the moment we were applying plaster that we were not going to heal that fracture, but we had no other option. This led year after year to malunion and deformity, and basically lead to disability, and for a population that counts on pastoralism, to be a disable means destroying his life and becoming a burden for the all family. Then a quantum leap happened. All of the sudden SIGN approved our hospital to be part of the SIGN program and after few weeks we received all the implants and the possibility to train in order to use the correct tecnique. I remember that day very well. When all the shipment arrived in my hospital, two huge big box, I felt like Christmas althought it was July. Those kind of Christmas when you are a child and surprise and happines gives you thrill in all your body. Nails, instruments, books, learning dvd, every single piece brand new and wrapped. In Africa most of the time we are used to receive donation of used materials or used inplants that are discard from other hospitals. Old material, most of the time even broken. As Africa is a big trash can were you can trow away things that you do not need any more and at the same time feel good because you are helping the poor. False. But in this case everything was of the latest tecnology and all new. So the future enter our hospital.
From that day we were able to perform othopedic surgery for the first time in the hystory of the hospital. To put back walking patient after one week instead of 3 months of plaster. Mother with many children had the possibility to go straight back home and take care of their children. Children were able to go straight back to school and not loose studies, men were able to go back straight to work and keep the family alive. The patients could not believe that we were discharging them home walking on their own legs after one week. Honestly also myself could not believe it. Very rarely, life give you the opportunity to be part of a real historical changing moments, and that was happening under my eyes, and SIGN made it happened. And while I was working putting back to walk one patient at the time, I also realized that SIGN was working on me by teaching me and training me, and making me a better doctor to serve the patients. SIGN was teaching me and training me, and most important it was pooring on me their passion for orthopedics. And they succeded, without realizing it, my needs for orthopedics became interest and then passion, and when passion starts results are great because you put a maximum energy and commitment. And I suppose SIGN already knew all of this.
The destiny of the patients of this community has completly changed since the arrival of SIGN, the life of our hospital has changed, and honestly also my life has changed.
The SIGN quote "we walk the world" says a lot but not all. SIGN is not only giving the possibility to restore walking, but by walking in a community like Samburu is restoring social, economic and cultural status of the patients and his family, and what to say, for a doctor like me is like giving to Harry Potter the magic stick.

Thank you SIGN.

Dr. Daniel Sciuto
Samburu County Referral Hospital
Maralal, Samburu County
Kenya

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have worked with SIGN Fracture Care for over 15 years and have seen the impact that providing the implant for a long bone fracture has made on the injured patient and family. Later -the impact of SIGN providing a tool to the surgeon and education and training became obvious as they expressed their gratitude and expanded their techniques to colleagues and mentored other surgeons. when the patients and surgeons share their stories with the donors and the workers at SIGN the circle is complete. This is a great organization and the mission serves the underfunded and unrecognized epidemic of road traffic injuries in the developing world.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We are using SIGN Nail to our patients free of cost. Annually about hundreds of our patients get benefited. My sincere thanks to SIGN fracture care international.
Regards
Dr Gajendra Mani Shah
Orthopedic surgeon
Patan Academy of Health Sciences
Nepal

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I’m a surgeon sign working in Kenya. I got to know about the sign program two years ago. We start the program in our hospital.
Sign has brought such a transformation in the region I work also being the place I was born and grew up. It doesn’t not only heal the patient but restores families.
Receiving free implants we as surgeons are able to manage our patients and they back to their normal life with in a short time. It’s been such a satisfaction to my job when I see my patients well.
To child they are able to go back to school. The pictures have attached of a young boy who fell from a tree and injured his leg. His family had no hope for treatment and for the young boy his dream of education were shuttered. We had sign and reassured the family and the young boy of recovery for him to be back to school.

1 Gaido B.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In the last 2 years the continuous support and the free implants we received from Sign allowed us to treat more than 650 patients with severe and complicated fractures. The patients were all poor and they could not have afforded any surgical treatment.
I wish to share the story of Mr Kenga, in the photo below:
Kenga Karisa Thoya

Kenga Karisa Thoya was admitted on 15/03/2018 with diagnosis of open fracture of the RT tibia-fibula with displacement of tibia fragment, after motorbike accident.
He came to our hospital through an NGO. They chose us because at the local hospital the treatment would have been too expensive, unless the choice was for amputation.
The patient came through public bus, after a 1000 km journey.
Because of clinical presentation of the wound it was not possible to do ORIF with interlocking nail and so on 16/03/2018 major debridement was done.
On 19/03/2018 debridement was repeated , ORIF with interlocking nail and muscle flap were also done in the same surgical session.
On 24/05/2018 a third operation was performed: a rotational flap was done in order to cover parts of bones still exposed. Since that day, in order to promote faster the healing of the wound, we decided to apply VAC therapy, which got amazing improvement.
On 13/7/2018, thanks to the good results obtainied through the VAC-therapy, a skin graft was done in order to cover the healed wound.
On 23/7/2018 a control x –ray post op was done and showed that the interlocking nail was in situ, segmental tibia fracture was well aligned, fibula fracture was not displaced, bone healing was noted.
On 30/7/2018 the patient was discharged. At time of discharge the patient was able to ambulate.
It was a very challenging case.
Due to massive soft tissue damage during the RTA, the muscle flaps were quite difficult.
Patient was also very restless and could not fully understand the long stay in hospital under VAC therapy. Nursing care during the moths he has been on VAC has been paramount.
We have extensively used honey while dressing and we believe it has been a good choice.
All of this was possible through the collaboration with Sign Fracture Care international who donate to us free implants for our patients

Dr Gaido

Bereket T.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Without SIGN our poor Patients here in Ethiopia would have been disabeled and bed ridden.

Donor

Rating: 5

CTTSProductions has been capturing the SIGN story since 2004. It has been a privilege to be part of
Dr. Lewis Zirkle’s passion –“ to create the equality of fracture care throughout the world”. I personally have watched the SIGN organization grow exponentially touching the lives of more than 219,000 adults and children in developing countries giving them a chance to return to a vital life of caring for their families. With his own personal funds – Dr. Zirkle developed the SIGN Nail, a unique intramedullary implant that requires no x-ray equipment for implantation. Today the Pacific Northwest Kiwanis and other notable individuals have joined SIGN in this mission understanding that a fracture that can’t mend means months and years in traction or even worse an amputation. SIGN engineers, manufactures, and provides the SIGN Implants to 332 hospitals across 50 countries. Every employee and volunteer of SIGN shares Dr. Zirkle’s same passion working hours tirelessly to ensure the poorest of the poor who are injured can be quickly treated and return to their life. This selfless sharing has been recognized by the United States government, with General James Mattis, Secretary of Defense presenting Dr. Lewis Zirkle with the Distinguished Service Award in 2018. SIGN is a miracle in motion.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working with SIGN to develop their quality system for the last 10 years. As a medical device manufacturer, there are many requirements that must be met to ensure safe and effective products. SIGN works tirelessly to adhere to these regulations and standards, and does so while always keeping their patients as the top priority. It is truly inspiring to be a part of their world-class organization. I continue to learn from their commitment to their mission and the best in class systems they have in place.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first met Dr. Lew Zirkle in the early 1980s. We had both served in a medical capacity in the Vietnam war and had both done teaching of orthopaedic surgery in developing countries through Orthopaedics Overseas. Lew had observed that we were unable to do much effective treatment of fracture patients because of a lack of bone implants (nails, plates, screws). In the mid 90's he began to conceive of SIGN. I saw him as a man of vision and action but did not dream that he would bring to life an organization which would change the face of Third World orthopaedic and trauma care. I have proudly served on the SIGN Board since 2002 and each year I marvel at the growth and effectiveness of SIGN under his leadership. Putting in over 70 hours of SIGN work weekly, Lew has never taken a salary. A SIGN donor can be assured that every dollar donated is efficiently treating the poor of the world.
David S. Whitney, MD

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Donor

Rating: 5

SIGN Fracture Care International is unique. It has earned 4 stars on Charity Navigator for several years as more than 90% of donated monies go directly toward manufacture and delivery of orthopaedic implants to put injured 3rd World patients back on their feet following severe trauma. This is just the start as SIGN also trains surgeons from developing countries how to best use these implants. The benefits are passed on as getting the breadwinner in a poor family back on his or her feet, allowing the family to have food on the table and the community to have more productive members. All the teaching is done by volunteers.

Donor

Rating: 5

Our company has been a longtime supporter of SIGN Fracture Care- from helping them box supplies for their 2010 Haitian relief mission to sponsoring their annual fundraiser to donating two handheld XRF analyzers to ensure that the proper metal alloys are used in their custom surgical implants.

Dr. Zirkle, Ms. Dillner and the entire SIGN team do a fantastic job of supporting their mission. In fact, Dr. Zirkle's efforts recently caught the attention of Secretary of Defense James Mattis. On February 26, 2018, Secretary of Defense Mattis presented Dr. Zirkle with the Medal for Distinguished Public Service. This medal is the highest award that is presented by the Secretary of Defense, to a private citizen, politician, non-career federal employee, or foreign national.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SIGN is a wonderful organization with an incredible mission to improve lives in countries facing significant challenges.

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been a sponsor of SIGN Fracture Care International for several years and are very proud of our involvement with this nonprofit. Dr. Zirkle and his team of dedicated employees have literally saved the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people worldwide, This group operates with the highest integrity and we hold them in the greatest esteem. SIGN's CEO, Jeanne Dillner, is truly dedicated and inspirational. Dr. Lew Zirkle's innovative implants have allowed patients in third world countries to avoid severe disabilities. We commend this wonderful organization for their commitment to service.

1 RalphCurran

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been supporting SIGN Fracture Care International through Kiwanis since 2003. The WHO lists trauma as the worst problem in the developing world and to my knowledge SIGN is the only organization that is addressing it. They have developed implants and the instruments to use them and manufacture them in Richland WA. They furnish the implants, instruments and training free as long as the patient recieves the surgery free. They now support over 300 hospitals in 50 countries, performed over 300,000 surgeries and trained over 5000 surgeons. This year they will ship over 30,000 implants. I visited a SIGN hospital in Tanzania in 2011 and got to meet the grateful surgeons and patients. There is no better bang for the buck!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a SIGN supporter for many years. According to the "World Health Organization", Trauma is the largest health problem in the developing world. To my knowledge "SIGN Fracture Care International" is the only organization doing something about it. SIGN supplies the training, implants and the surgical tools required to use them, to surgeons working in minimal facilities all around the world (free). I had the privilege of visiting a SIGN surgical center in Tanzania, witnessing the operations and meeting the wonderful local surgeons and grateful patients. The impact SIGN is having is amazing. I urge you to support them. There is no better bang for the buck.

Donor

Rating: 5

SIGN Fracture Care International is an amazing organization fulfilling a critical mission. The dedication of the staff is incredible, the heartfelt thanks from the surgeons and patients can bring tears to your eyes, and the drive to improve and do more is unfailing. SIGN Fracture Care International is doing important work to help people worldwide!

Board Member

Rating: 5

SIGN designs and makes orthopedic products to fit the challenging environments of developing countries. These products combined with ongoing training and mentoring have elevated surgeons and their care for poor patients around the world. Traveling with SIGN over the years has given me the chance to see patients treated with SIGN implants and the proud surgeons who are now using modern methods to care for them. The staff at SIGN are wonderful and are very dedicated its mission.

Donor

Rating: 5

SIGN Fracture Care International is a fabulous non-profit organization helping individuals and families around the world by healing fractures that would otherwise go untreated. The development of the procedure and nails by Dr. Zirkle and his team has touched and improved lives in countries where care is often challenged or non-existent. The Pacific Northwest District of Kiwanis International is honored to have SIGN as one of our district projects. The work SIGN does is valuable and it is improving the lives of children and families around the globe.

tiford

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have worked with SIGN for nearly 5 years now as a member of their Board of Directors and as legal counsel. I can say without reservation working with SIGN is one of the most important things in my professional life. But perhaps even more important is that my personal life has been enriched and forever changed because of the people who dedicate their lives' work to SIGN. Day in and day out, the folks at SIGN strive to bring care and compassion to people all over the world who would otherwise have none. I had no idea that traffic accidents in third world countries were such a source of tragedy. The accident itself is, of course, terrible. But what happens to people's lives and families after such an accident (if care is not available) is absolutely horrific. SIGN has had a single mission since its inception: to provide life saving care and to protect and preserve these individual's way of life by restoring their ability to provide for their families. It is so much more than just providing surgery and medical care; it truly is about saving the lives of everyone affected by such an accident. What impresses me the most about Dr. Zirkle's vision is that he is truly "teaching a man to fish". By establishing teaching centers and hospitals where the SIGN nail and related products are used by local surgeons, SIGN is ensuring that the desperately needed care will always be there. SIGN is teaching surgeons in countries around the world how to use the SIGN nail and how to achieve the very best results. THAT is the aspect of SIGN's mission that is working to save lives now AND into the future. The vision of one great man and the commitment and selflessness of so many others makes SIGN what it has become today. A true beacon of light for thousands who would otherwise be plunged into darkness. I am beyond humbled to be included among the ranks of those whose lives SIGN has touched.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Leatherman Tool is proud to help support SIGN Fracture Care.

About two years ago, I learned about this organization. They develop, manufacture (in the Pacific NW) and install medical implants for repairing broken bones around the world for no cost to the recipient. They teach surgeon’s how to use their equipment and implants and then provide it at no cost. It has already been used to treat nearly 200,000 patients!

Why I like SIGN Fracture Care:
1. They are product innovators. They manufacture their products in USA
2. They help people where they can’t help themselves with disaster relief
3. They help people where they cannot afford good healthcare
4. They have demonstrated commitment and success over a long period of time.
5. The way that they help people transforms not just the recipient’s life, but also the family of the recipient.
6. The way that they help people is very tangible and personal.
7. One can very easily connect ones donation with helping an actual person somewhere in the world. It is specific and real.

They are hard-working, efficient good people. They deserve more notice and more support.

Image of doctors from around the world being trained at SIGN headquarters in Washington.

Sincerely,

Ben Rivera
President and CEO
Leatherman Tool Group, Inc.


Donor

Rating: 5

No other health care not for profit can match SIGN's commitment and ability to deliver patient care resources coupled with education and support for a developing nation's Orthopaedic trauma community. I am proud to call myself a supporter of this mission driven organization

Donor

Rating: 5

We gladly support and donate the majority or our charitable contributions to SIGN every year. What distinguishes SIGN for us is how they support the local doctors with the equipment and training they request so they can treat their own patients. SIGN is helping hospitals built local trauma care capacity to break the cycle of poverty and reduce long term disability for patients affected by conflicts, disasters, and road traffic accidents. We share SIGN's mission for equality of care and peace for those with few options.

Antje & Joel Gillard