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A Sense of Community Which Extends Beyond Our Borders

Facial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Keith LaFerriere donates time and expertise in Vietnam for the Face to Face program.
Dr. Keith LaFerriere
Used by permission of Dr. Keith LaFerriere

 “I’m Dr. Keith LaFerriere.  I’ve been in Springfield for 32 years.  I’ve had affiliations with both Cox and St. Johns Hospitals for many years, but predominately with St. Johns for the last 15 years.   The Face to Face program is an outgrowth of The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and it has 2 components; International and Domestic.  The international goes to many countries around the world, but our mission is not just to treat, it’s also to educate.  To educate surgeons in the host country about techniques they can then use to treat people in their own country.

I recently participated in an international trip to Vietnam.  It was not a very long trip.   We left on the 13thof October, arrived late night on the 14th.  We had one day to rest and then saw patients on the 16thfor half a day, and that determined who we were going to do surgery on, and getting to know them and trying to get that schedule set up.  We lectured on the 17thand 18th, full days, from early morning to late afternoon.  We operated on the 19th, 20thand 21st. 

They presented us with a number of patients and some we felt we could help a little better at this time, on this trip, because sometimes, some procedures can be performed in stages, which we try to avoid because we aren’t there for the 2ndstage.  An exception to that can be for cleft lip palate cases which can be staged over many years.  In this recent trip, one of my colleagues did do a revisionary construction of a cleft lip palate.  Sometimes we take trauma cases.  This trip we had a 20 year old woman who at age 4, had been involved in a motorcycle accident and had severe facial injuries.  She had multiple reconstructive procedures performed, and this time we were able to reconstruct the right half of her nose so it would look more natural.  Again, the purpose of that wasn’t only for the patient, because that’s very important, but also to teach the surgeons there. 

The eagerness of the doctors there, to learn.  Not only in surgery but in the lecture areas as well.  My gosh, they hung on every word and every surgery.  I’ve got pictures of 5 or 6 surgeons looking over my shoulder or from various sides to get angles to see what we were doing.  They just were very eager to learn, and I think I took that away with me more than any single thing.”

Dr. Keith LaFerriere also participates in the Domestic wing of The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Face To Face program through which members volunteer to help victims of domestic abuse who can’t afford treatment for facial injuries.  For information, www.aafprs.org

In the afternoon edition of today’s Sense of Community Series, you’ll meet Dr. Jon Roberts, a Family Practice Physician for 34 years in Mt. View Missouri who takes part in medical mission trips to impoverished areas of the world, most recently in Haiti.