Ten years ago, the Plasticos Foundation completed its first missions to Cuba. Led by Dr. Larry Nichter, the team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses made life-changing reconstructive surgery possible for children with burns and deformities.
In the intervening decade, politics kept Plasticos from returning to Cienfuegos, on the southern coast of the island nation. But that has changed. With the U.S. and Cuba opening up relations, the Plasticos team were able to book a return to the Hospital Pediátrico Universitario — the same hospital where they performed transformative surgeries for children years ago.
Dr. Larry Nichter again heads the team. On their 2016 trip, the team will include: “two other plastic surgeons, a general surgeon, a pediatrician, three anesthesiologists, five nurses, trip organizers and, for the first time, an orthodontist.” The team anticipate performing scores of surgeries, including some very complicated ones.
Plasticos, on all their missions, makes a point of sharing technical information with their hosts while performing surgeries so that these same types of surgeries can continue even after the team has left. Dr. Nichter and his team will share the latest reconstructive technical advances including burn repair, flap surgeries, and breast reconstruction after mastectomy so that these procedures will always be available to the people of Cienfuegos and surrounding communities.
Plasticos Foundation will also leave medical equipment, including an autoclave sterilizing machine and operating theater lights, in Cuba as a gift to the hospital.
This is Dr. Nichter’s 70th volunteer surgical mission, the vast majority in the past 15 years with the Plasticos Foundation, of which he is co-founder and president.