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Fall 2011

Healing Hands Teaching the Next Generation of Humanitarian Surgeons Inside A Message from the President and CEO Susan W. Hayes ............2 Back to School Despite His Disability ................................3 Teaching Nursing in Nepal ...........4 One Thousand Surgeries .............5 Univision’’s Celebrity ““Doctora Aliza”” Volunteers in Bolivia ..........6 ““Dr. Hien”” to Be Honored .............7

Dr. Shafquat Khundkar of Bangladesh with his resident and patients. Photo by John Urban.

In September, Dr. Jorge Palacios, ReSurge’’s surgical outreach director in Ecuador, traveled with a team of Ecuadorian reconstructive surgeons to a small Andean town called Loja. There, they provided life-changing surgeries for patients with clefts, disabling burns and hand injuries——continuing the care ReSurge volunteers gave in the past. What is also remarkable about their philanthropic journey is that his fellow surgeons were his former students. ““Can you believe that our dream is nally coming true, that our graduated residents are taking over the responsibility of keeping [ReSurge founder] Don Laub’’s and ReSurge’’s dream alive?”” said Dr. Palacios. In the last nine years, Drs. Palacios, Shafquat Khundkar (Bangladesh) and Shankar Rai (Nepal) have pioneered the rst plastic surgery residency programs in their countries. They founded the programs to signicantly increase the pool of local reconstructive surgeons devoted to helping the poor in their own communities——and it is working. Today, young men and women are training to care of their own countrymen in critical need of reconstructive surgery.

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In Ecuador, 21 plastic surgeons have graduated from Dr. Palacios’’s program; others are in the process of completing their requirements. The majority of the graduates are working in outlying provinces, like Loja and Portoviejo, where reconstructive surgeons are needed the most. (continued on page 4)

Same Mission: Name Changed Habits can be hard to break! I know they are for me, more so the older I get. So we understand that though we changed our name last fall to ReSurge International, you may still think of us as Interplast from time to time. That is okay with us!

Thanks to Ronald McDonald House Charities ReSurge International is deeply grateful for our long-term partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). Their most recent grant (FY11), the Resurgence of Hope initiative, greatly improved the quality of life for 2,309 children who suffered from disabling burn injuries, hand injuries, clefts and other congenital deformities. An astounding 17,600 productive years were restored to these patients, and nearly $20 million will be recovered in productivity for their respective developing countries over the patients’’ lifetimes.* This is because these once-disabled patients will now have the opportunity to go to school, to work and to lead normal lives, contributing to the economies of their local communities. Prior to surgery, their possibilities for such productive lives were improbable. Thousands of patients and families have been transformed forever because of the dedication and generosity of RMHC. Many have regained the use of their hands and legs, while others can now more easily speak and eat. Thank you RMHC for more than 12 years of restoring lives and hope.

Because the truth is that our name is the only thing that has changed. What hasn’’t changed, and never will, is our commitment to transforming lives through reconstructive surgery. Founded more than 40 years ago, we were the rst organization of its kind. Now, through our new identity as ReSurge International, we distinguish ourselves as one of the only organizations that focuses on the full range of reconstructive surgery in the developing world. And the work continues, just as before. ReSurge International continues to reach out to vulnerable people in 13 countries, providing them with reconstructive surgery (hence, resurge) that repairs bodies and restores hopes. Our patients ““resurge”” into a new life, with renewed possibilities. Inspired by our new identity, we also just completed a new strategic plan. Its principal components demonstrate our commitment to the full scope of reconstructive care (clefts, burns and other needs) and a strong commitment to the patient that doesn’’t stop with the surgery, but begins with the surgery, providing therapies that optimize function. The plan addresses one of the most pressing unmet reconstructive need worldwide: the millions of people who are disabled from debilitating burn injuries that prevent them from being productive citizens. Our new plan also commits us to long-term growth, while at the same time being cognizant of current economic realities. And that is a good point upon which to end this message. You have always been essential to everything we do around the world, and we are deeply grateful. But in the current economic climate, your continued support has never been more important than it is right now, today. So as you read the stories in this newsletter, please take great pride in all you’’ve helped us accomplish, and please continue your support so we can keep on reaching those who need us. Sincerely,

*For more information on the economic impact of surgical care, please go to Photo by Darcy Padilla.


Susan W. Hayes, President and CEO

Healing Hands




Fall 2011

World Report on Disability For the rst time ever, a world report on disability was jointly produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and The World Bank. Below are some interesting gures in the report. •• 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability. •• 95 million children live with a disability. •• 45 million disabilities are due to unintentional injuries. •• 200 million people experience difculties in functioning.

Photo by John Urban.

Back to School Despite His Disability Alam lives in an apartment building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. With the lack of space to play, Alam used the rooftop of his apartment building as his playground. One day while ying a kite on the rooftop, he ran into an electrically-charged wire and was badly injured. Electrical burns often cause deep entry and exit wounds and both of Alam’’s arms and hands were severely burned. Although our surgical outreach director, Dr. Shafquat Khundkar, couldn’’t do much to save Alam’’s left arm, his right arm’’s muscles, nerves and joints could still be reconstructed and made useful again. When the next ReSurge volunteer medical team visited Dhaka, Alam bravely underwent surgery, with Dr. Khundkar and our medical volunteers collaborating to restore function to his right arm. Last year, we visited Alam to see his progress. His mother shared that Alam was able to return to school after his surgery. As she spoke, she handed him a pen and asked him to show us how he could write his name.

Despite the fact that Alam lost one arm, his right arm has enough function and strength to allow him to hold a pencil and attend school——an impressive accomplishment considering the fact that ““disability is one of the least visible, but most potent factors in educational marginalization,”” according to the 2011 UNESCO education report. The World Health Organization reports that in Bangladesh alone, ““the cost of disability due to forgone income from a lack of schooling and employment, both of people with disabilities and their caregivers, is estimated at US $1.2 billion annually.”” With surgical intervention, Alam’’s life has been saved from complete disability. He is just one example of the many patients your support helps. With 95 million children living with disabilities globally, today ReSurge depends on your donations more than ever——especially in these difcult economic times. Thank you for continuing, or increasing, your support which allows us to fulll our promise to restore lives and hope. 3

Teaching the Next Generation (continued from cover)

““I feel so proud, because they are very prominent and respected members of their communities,”” commented Dr. Palacios.

Teaching Nursing in Nepal Six ReSurge volunteer nurse educators recently went to Nepal to help train the local nurses. Dr. Shankar Rai, director emeritus of ReSurge’’s surgical outreach program in Nepal, had asked ReSurge to design a teaching program for the Nepalese nurses, after observing and being impressed with the level of care and concern ReSurge volunteer nurses gave their patients. Over the course of a month, the nurse educators worked alongside Dr. Rai’’s experienced nurses to collaboratively teach his new nursing staff. The teaching program covered a wide variety of topics. ““The nurses we are training are a very willing and energetic group. We are energized by their enthusiasm and Dr. Rai’’s support,”” wrote volunteer nurse educator Cheryl Wraa from Nepal. ReSurge highly commends nurse educators Molly Attell, Tina Cerruti, Ingrid Crocco, Katie Osborn, Cheryl Wraa and Kim Yates for their time and dedication. The knowledge they were able to leave behind will have a lasting impact on the level of patient care in Nepal moving forward.

In 2003, Dr. Khundkar founded Bangladesh’’s rst plastic surgery master’’s program. In 2005, he established the rst plastic surgery fellowship program. There are now 150 students between both programs, 75 of whom are residents or new plastic surgeons. Dr. Khundkar has helped double the number of plastic surgeons in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries on earth where half of its people live in poverty. ““If I don’’t teach people to do plastic surgery, there will be no one doing plastic surgery after me,”” said Dr. Khundkar. ““My expectations are that these students who will be coming out will have the same feelings which I have in regard to the patients and they will have the same attitude and the keenness to work for the poor people of the country.”” His expectations are being realized. Thus far, all 75 of Khundkar’’s residents and former residents share his philanthropic spirit and are using their talents for those who need it most, the impoverished of Bangladesh. A few months ago, Dr. Rai founded Nepal’’s rst plastic surgery residency program for the same reason: to provide more desperately needed care to the poorest in the country. In January, the program will begin. In Dr. Palacios’’s words, the dream is coming true. ReSurge helped to teach these expert surgical outreach partners, and now these partners are training the next generation. It is a dream of building surgical capacity, training the trainer and thus increasing access to care. With the devotion of our developing world partners and the help of donors like you, this dream is becoming a reality.

With your support, ReSurge and its partners, like Dr. Palacios (pictured here with his residents), are able to ensure that access to care for the poor continues to grow. We can’’t do it with out you! Please donate today.

Photo by Adam Forgash.


Healing Hands




Fall 2011

Tenacious Parents Finally Get Surgery for Their Daughter

Michael Donner with patient and his mother in Peru. Photo by Adam Forgash.

The Donners and Barco’’s Nightingales Foundation

One Thousand ReSurge Surgeries ““It was one of the best moments of my life,”” said donor Michael Donner, after seeing ReSurge’’s work rsthand as part of a surgical team trip to Peru. ““The common bond we shared was a compassion to do good deeds for children in need. We all came together as a team to inspire each other and to help these children have a better life. [Being part of the trip] was an unexpected miracle and gift to me.”” Donner is president of the Barco’’s Nightingales Foundation, and his strong commitment to helping those who need it most has enabled the relatively new foundation to literally transform more than a thousand lives. Barco’’s Nightingales Foundation was established in December 2008 by Michael and his wife, Frida, on behalf of Barco Uniforms, based in Southern California. ““It was their way of saluting the many generations of nurses and their tremendous contribution to making the world a better place for each of us,”” says a statement on their website ( Their mission is to ““elevate and promote nursing, while also honoring the spirit of the profession by focusing [their] funding on helping children.”” To date, the foundation has helped ReSurge provide more than 1,000 life-changing surgeries for children around the world. ““[This milestone] is a great achievement and we are very proud,”” said Donner. On behalf of ReSurge International, all of our patients and their families whose lives have forever been transformed, we thank Michael and Frida Donner, and the Barco’’s Nightingales Foundation, for their steadfast commitment to restoring lives and hope.

Children with clefts may also have other congenital issues. For those patients, getting surgical care can be extremely difcult. Two-year-old Van Nhuy is a twin who was born with a cleft palate and missing a lung, but is quite healthy otherwise; she literally keeps her mother and twin sister running and playing for hours. Her parents had sought treatment for her cleft palate on numerous occasions, but were always rejected because she had only one lung. Luckily, Van Nhuy’’s great uncle is a doctor in the Cao Lanh hospital where the ReSurge team works. He had heard that an expert anesthesiologist, Dr. George Gregory, would be coming to Cao Lanh soon and thought he might be able to help. Dr. Gregory has been a world leader in pediatric anesthesiology since the 1960s and wrote Pediatric Anesthesia, the leading textbook on the subject. ReSurge is extremely fortunate to have him on staff and as a regular volunteer. But last April, Van Nhuy was the truly lucky one. Dr. Gregory examined her carefully, conferred with the other anesthesiologists, pediatrician and her parents, and then deemed Van Nhuy healthy enough for surgery. Now with her palate repaired, Van Nhuy will be able to have a normal, healthy life with her twin sister and family.


Helping Gabriel Three-year-old Gabriel from La Paz, Bolivia, came to see our visiting ReSurge medical team the last week they were offering surgeries. With an already full schedule, it seemed impossible he would be able to receive surgery during the team’’s visit.

Univision’’s Celebrity Doctor ““Doctora Aliza”” Volunteers in Bolivia

One of the team’’s surgeons, Dr. Jonathan Rausky, evaluated Gabriel anyway. Upon seeing Gabriel’’s condition, he knew the team needed to help him as soon as possible and thought his devoted teammates would agree.

Univision, People en Español and health expert Dr. Aliza Lifshitz (known as ““Doctora Aliza””) spent a week volunteering with ReSurge’’s surgical team in La Paz, Bolivia.

Gabriel was born with syndactyly, a condition in which ngers are fused together. In Gabriel’’s case, four of his ngers on his right hand were fused. Given Gabriel’’s age, Dr. Rausky felt it was vital he receive surgery as soon as possible so that as he grew older, his hand would have the opportunity to grow along with his body.

Dr. Aliza’’s medical expertise and Spanish-language skills contributed greatly to the team’’s success. She appeared with ReSurge’’s partner, Dr. Jorge Terrazas, on Bolivia’’s third most-watched television show, ““El Noticiero Bolivisión,”” where they took questions from callers and referred the appropriate patients to the visiting ReSurge team.

Well aware of the time-sensitive nature of this surgery, the team agreed to add Gabriel to their schedule, even though it meant they would have to work late that evening. Gabriel’’s surgery went very well. The team was able to release two of the fused ngers and asked Gabriel’’s parents to bring him back next year for one last hand surgery.


Upon Dr. Aliza’’s return to her radio show, ““El Consultoria de la Dra. Aliza”” on Radio Cadena Univision, after her time in Bolivia, her producer surprised her with a special segment in which Dr. Aliza was interviewed about her time there. ““The work we did in Bolivia was a truly a labor of love,”” she described.

““Seeing parents’’ happiness when they learned their children would receive treatment, and their relief as the children recovered from surgery, was a privilege and gave me tremendous joy,”” recalled Dr. Aliza upon her return.

The interview lasted 20 minutes, during which both Dr. Terrazas and Doctora Aliza spoke of Dr. Terrazas’’ foundation, Fundacion S.O.S Mano, and ReSurge International’’s work in Bolivia and around the world. An hour after the interview aired, the hospital where ReSurge was working was inundated with families who had watched the show and sought the team’’s help. During the team’’s visit, nearly 200 patients were screened for surgery and almost half received either physical therapy or surgical treatment. Dr. Aliza’’s husband, Carl Kravetz, a member of ReSurge’’s board of directors, also volunteered in Bolivia, helping with the creation of medical charts and serving as a translator for the team.

Healing Hands




Fall 2011

Surgical Team to Mali

Photo by Darcy Padilla.

““Dr. Hien”” To Be Honored at Gala Dr. Hien Thi Nguyen knew the rural poor of her country needed the medical services ReSurge provides and worked to make Vietnam one of ReSurge’’s largest programs. More than 6,000 Vietnamese children have received 8,000 life-changing surgeries from 1,000 ReSurge volunteers on 83 trips. Dr. Nguyen is the key reason for those phenomenal numbers. She has been our leader and partner in Vietnam since 2000——acting as a one-woman advance team, translator, facilitator and host——not to mention an expert pediatric anesthesiologist and educator. Dr. Nguyen focused our work in remote provinces where care was severely limited, restoring hope to those without it. ReSurge’’s Vietnam program would not be possible without her tireless efforts. For her exemplary service, Dr. Nguyen will be honored at our Transformations Gala. We hope you will join us there on November 5, 2011 at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. Please contact Libby Hart,, or our website for further information.

Shop ReSurge We are thrilled to announce the launch of our online store! Visit our store and show your support for ReSurge by sporting a new coffee mug, shirt or grocery bag with a ReSurge logo. Visit or scan the QR code (right) to start shopping today.

The rst surgical team of our 2011-2012 volunteer trip season headed off to Bamako, Mali, at the end of September. They spent two weeks providing approximately 75 free surgeries to burn survivors, as well as those with clefts and hand injuries. In Mali, there is only one physician for every 12,800 people and no reconstructive plastic surgeons. For the last ve years, ReSurge International has sent teams to Bamako to restore function and hope and to help build the country’’s surgical capacity. ““There were an endless number of burn victims, cleft patients and congenital hand cases. The state of malnutrition and medical needs was overwhelming,”” said Beverly Kent, ReSurge director of volunteer services and team leader. ““Yet, it felt so wonderful to know our team was helping many poor people who have no other alternative in seeking care.”” Meet 11 of the Mali team members by watching a two-minute video on the ReSurge YouTube page:



ReSurge International (formerly Interplast) provides free reconstructive surgeries for the poor and expands year-round medical access in underserved areas. We restore the dreams of those with deformities and injuries, and renew the health of thousands of people each year so they can go to school, provide for their families, and be productive members of society.

Organization U.S. Postage PAID Mountain View, CA Permit No. 70

( Formerly Interplast )

857 Maude Ave Mountain View, California 94043

Interplast is now ReSurge International.



Fall 2011

Healing Hands In this issue, learn about the residency programs in Ecuador, Bangladesh and Nepal, which are helping train the next generation of humanitarian surgeons. Read one young boy’’s story of hope as he overcomes his disability to return to school and how one donor’’s vision has helped provide more than 1,000 ReSurge surgeries.

Top photo by Darcy Padilla. Right photo by Phil Borges.

ReSurge Fall 2011 Newsletter  

ReSurge Newsletter