Interplast sends 9 on mission trip to perform reconstruction procedures

MORGANTOWN — A group of nine practitioners affiliated with Ruby Memorial Hospital recently arrived back in West Virginia from a mission trip in Lesotho, Africa.

Their goal was to perform reconstruction procedures on as many people as they could in the two weeks they had in Lesotho. They did 68 procedures, and now that they are back in the U.S., they are back to work planning for the next trip.

The trip was through Interplast West Virginia Inc., a nonprofit organization created over 30 years ago by Dr. David Fogarty, a now retired plastic surgeon. When Fogarty was an intern studying at Stanford University, he got involved and traveled to Mexico to help with medical procedures. That’s when he decided he wanted to incorporate traveling to countries with populations in need of medical attention, thus the creation of Interplast to provide plastic surgery in Third World countries.

Fogarty said the recent trip to Lesotho focused on repairing cleft lips and pallets, burns on children, but no cosmetic work. Their goal is to give medical attention lacking in areas like Lesotho, and the surgeons who go on the trips are all volunteers, working for free. They take along the medicine needed and medical tools.

Fogarty, who has been on more than 100 of these trips, is now focusing on recruiting younger medical professionals to keep Interplast going. Being able to give back is what’s important to Fogarty, and he’s hoping younger practitioners get involved and “get the spark to carry on.”
“We all have gifts … it’s just a matter of sharing our gifts,” Fogarty said. “I’m now looking for young people to carry the torch forward.”
Fogarty said he looks forward to see relatively new doctors and nurses going on the trips and finding the passion, not only for doing such work but also for their careers.

“[The most exciting to see is] some young surgeon, nurse or anesthesiologist come wide-eyed, not been before, and all of a sudden they get that unknown or unexplained feeling that this is important to them,, They get some kind of feedback that they want to continue to do it for the rest of their life, as part of their professional careers,” Fogarty said. “I’ve done so many procedures before that I don’t need the feedback, but I like to see others get it.”
In March, Interplast is going to Haiti. It will be Fogarty’s 112th trip.
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