Volunteers in Plastic Surgery
A Universal Hope
When a baby is born, the words healthy and normal carry strong emotional weight with expectant parents. And thanks to continuing advances in U.S. medical technology, they are words often taken for granted. In other parts of the world, however, some parents — and children — aren't as fortunate. Poverty and limited access to medical care yields staggering deformity rates. Children born with birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate, and children with deformities from secondary burn injuries suffer an almost inconceivable fate. Many are abandoned or ostracized. Without the help of generous strangers, they will never know the meaning of the word "normal."
While many countries have facilities to take care of these children's basic needs (food, clothing, shelter), they cannot give children with deformities what they really need — corrective surgery to restore their smiles and emotional well-being.
A Desperate Cry for Help
In developing countries with limited medical resources, deformity equals non-acceptance. And whether those deformities have their origin in birth, disease or accidents, their impact on the young lives affected by them is the same. Statistics from the World Bank show that three-quarters of the world's population live in "developing" countries. In these areas, expanding populations and escalating debt are diluting the effectiveness of limited foreign medical-assistance programs.
This reality is especially devastating in many Asian countries, where one in every 500 children is born with a cleft lip and palate, and in remote parts of Africa, where severe burn injuries from open-fire cooking accidents are common.
Dedicated to Making a Difference
Thanks to the generous efforts of plastic surgeons from the United States, these people have not been forgotten. Over the past three decades, more than 150,000 children and adults have received medical treatment from dedicated volunteers, and the greatest gift of all hope. To support the ongoing international service efforts of plastic surgeons and their volunteer organizations, The Plastic Surgery Foundation established Volunteers in Plastic Surgery (VIPS). VIPS is a volunteer mission resource center and fuctions as a forum for discussing common issues and providing solutions to the many challenges inherent to international care missions. VIPS aims to equip our international physician colleagues with educational and surgical resources as well. You can help VIPS continue their goal of enabling this humanitarian work. Through educational and research grants, VIPS will direct all proceeds to the advancement of this important work.
VIPS's underlying philosophy is: To advance plastic surgery through service, training, education and research. To go where there is a need and where you are welcome.