Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) are ushering in 2009 by traveling overseas to donate their reconstructive surgical skills to children with cleft lip and palate. The surgeons will also teach local physicians techniques to enable them to continue to perform cleft procedures.  Multiple non-profit organizations received grants for first quarter missions, including Children of the Americas, Healing the Children Northeast, Xeroderma Pigmentosa Foundation, and Nicaplast.

"The economic downturn might be slowing the number of facelifts and liposuctions performed, but for many plastic surgeons the New Year brings ongoing opportunities to give back," says ASPS President John Canady, MD. Canady himself will participate in a mission trip to Guatemala in February with the local charity Miles of Smiles. "Children with facial deformities often face discrimination and ridicule in their communities. When surgeons donate their surgical talents to children and give physicians in developing countries the tools to continue helping people in their areas, they restore lives." Says Canady, who specializes in cleft lip and palate repairs.

"I believe there is a calling inside these surgeons. They love the opportunity to get back to the core of what drove them to become plastic surgeons in the first place," says DeLois Greenwood, Vice President of Smile Train. "We are coming up on our tenth year and expect to help our 500,000th child this year. Although our core mission is to train local doctors, sometimes there simply aren’t local doctors to train. In these cases, we’re proud to be a part of the effort to get these skilled plastic surgeons on airplanes and overseas where they can make a difference in lives of children who really have no place else to turn."

[source: PRNewswire]