OMFS resident heads charity that serves children in developing nations

Published: April 25, 2017 By: Jesef Williams
Abigail “Abi” Estelle MD, DDS, holds Martinette, a girl from the Philippines born with bilateral cleft lip and palate. Martinette, who later underwent corrective surgery, is one of more than 150 children around the world who have benefited from Estelle’s charity, Willing and Abel. View Larger Image
Estelle poses with Deve and her father, Michelet, who are from Haiti. Deve had a congenital heart condition called patent ductus arteriosus. Willing and Abel helped arrange for Deve to have surgery in Florida after the medical facilities in Port-au-Prince were destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. View Larger Image

Abigail “Abi” Estelle, MD, DDS, is using her medical expertise and passion for service to assist some of the most medically disadvantaged children around the world.

Estelle, an oral and maxillofacial surgery resident at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, is the founder of Willing and Abel, a charity that gives resources, support and medical attention to children in developing countries. These children typically live in extreme poverty or in remote settings and struggle to access health care.

“We are a small group of volunteers who seek to make a difference, one child at a time, by helping to arrange special surgery,” Estelle said.  

She came up with the charity’s name in 2008 during a mission trip to Cameroon. There, she met a boy named Abel, who was born with his heart outside his chest. She later arranged for him to have life-saving surgery in Italy.  

Since then, Willing and Abel has raised more than $300,000 and facilitated special treatment for more than 150 children. Conditions treated have included cleft lip, severe hernia, heart malformation and a host of other life-threatening birth defects. The money raised also helps families travel overseas when their children require special care. The group assists with logistics involving passports and visas.

Marathon runs and bake sales are some of ways they’ve raised money over the years. Outright monetary contributions have been a major help too, and the group always welcomes donations.

For her efforts, Estelle, a United Kingdom native, recently received the Point of Light Award. The accolade, which recognizes citizen volunteerism, is given by that country’s prime minister, Theresa May.

“Your tireless work through Willing and Abel is transforming lives across Africa by helping children access specialist surgeries that would otherwise be unavailable to them,” May said in a personal letter to Estelle, who earned her medical degree at King’s College London School of Medicine.

She is on track to complete her OMFS residency in 2019. Click here to learn more about her charity.

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