Dr. Nichter leads surgical team on return to Cuba

Dr. Larry Nichter, Plasticos
Dr. Larry Nichter (center) and the Plasticos team pack up medical supplies for Cuba.

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.

Article: The Orange County Register

Dr. Larry Nichter and Dr. Leonardo Atienza-Lois at the hospital in Cienfuegos.
Dr. Larry Nichter and Dr. Leonardo Atienza-Lois at the hospital in Cienfuegos.
Plasticos Team
The Plasticos team gathers to pack the massive amount of medical supplies and machines required for their trip.
Dr. Bob Burns checks off an extensive list of medical supplies destined for Cuba with the Plasticos team.
Dr. Bob Burns checks off an extensive list of medical supplies destined for Cuba with the Plasticos team.

Meet Dr. Larry Nichter – Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Larry Nichter, regarded as one of the top plastic surgeons in Southern California, talks about why he decided to specialize in the field of plastic surgery and about his humanitarian efforts made possible through his Plasticos Foundation. To learn more about Plastics or to donate, please visit:  http://www.theplasticosfoundation.org/

Dr. Nichter and Plasticos Foundation featured in Boston University Article

Dr. Larry Nichter and the Plasticos Foundation have been featured in an article on the Boston University website.

The article highlighted Plasticos Foundation’s work in Laos, and in particular the story of a 14-year-old girl who was able to walk again thanks to the team’s efforts. Importantly, the article described how disfigurements and birth defects often lead to social exclusion. Thus the Plasticos team’s work improves not only the patient’s physical well-being but gives them a new life by providing them with social acceptance.

The featured trip was on January 2009, and provided 95 patients with much-needed reconstructive surgery. However, this is just one of many Plasticos missions. Previous and subsequent missions have included Cuba, India, Armenia, and Cambodia.

Also emphasized in the article was the Plasticos Foundation’s “teach a man to fish” philosophy. The team not only performs surgeries but also trains local doctors and nurses to continue this work even after the Plasticos team has left. Dr. Nichter is quoted in the article:

When I went back to Vietnam, for instance, I asked someone I trained three years previously how many cleft lips he had done, and he said, ‘Oh, about a thousand.’ He performed more in three years than I’ll probably do in my lifetime. That is humbling and gratifying.”

The full text of the article is available on Boston University’s website.

More information on the Plasticos Foundation is available on its website.