Earlier this year a team of AAFPRS members gathered to talk about the situation in Ukraine with a focus on how, as facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons, we may be of assistance. The discussion was initiated by John Frodel, MD, who was part of a team that organized medical missions to Croatia back in 1996 and participated in FACE TO FACE trips to offer expertise to those injured during that conflict. "When I started watching the horrors that were happening in Ukraine at the end of February, I couldn't help but think that this was going to be very bad. It was so reminiscent of Croatia, but possibly even worse, as it involved over 100,000 invading Russian troops. It became obvious that there were going to be so many soldiers and civilians involved with potentially devastating injuries. It seemed to be a time for FACE TO FACE to offer some assistance. I emailed Dr. Maas, and he forwarded my email to Dr. Abraham".
The FACE TO FACE Committee Chair Manoj Abraham, MD immediately assembled a group of AAFPRS physicians with experience in organizing and conducting medical trips around the world. Dr. Abraham has extensive experience in this area and has been instrumental in orchestrating medical trips to Colombia, Peru, Ethiopia, India, and multiple other international sites. "It was incredible how quickly this effort came together says Dr. Abraham. Everyone understands the devastation that is ongoing in Ukraine, and we are all eager to help alleviate the suffering in any way that we can. I have been impressed how everyone on our team is willing to give up their personal time, energy, and resources to take this risk and partner with colleagues in Ukraine to help those on the ground.”
The nine day mission took place in mid-September 2022 and included a multi-disciplinary US team of 15 physicians, nurses, and support staff. In addition to Drs. Abraham and Frodel, Dr. Scott Tatum, and Dr. Grigoriy Mashkevich were participating AAFPRS members. The team provided their expertise to 39 military personnel and civilians and performed complex facial reconstructive surgeries on the face and neck. The team is already planning a return trip in 2023.