2005 HEALTH AWARD
Interplast Surgical Outreach Program
Shankar Man Rai, M.D., a reconstructive plastic surgeon and native of Nepal, has devoted much of his life to providing free plastic surgeries to children with birth defects, cleft lips and palates, and burn injuries in areas of the world where these disabilities and deformities can be devastating. A firm believer that all children throughout the world deserve to get the best medical care, Rai serves as Nepal Director of the Interplast Surgical Outreach Program, which provides year-round, reconstructive plastic surgery to children in developing countries.
Since 1996, Rai has provided more than 7,000 free surgeries, not only in the rural areas of Nepal, but also in Ecuador, Peru and Vietnam. Rai travels to remote villages to perform free surgeries on children who are unable to travel to the cities. In 1999, he established the first Surgical Outreach Center in Kathmandu, Nepal, to provide more children with access to reconstructive plastic surgery.
Not only does Rai provide children with corrective surgery, but also thorough post-care with his team. For example, more than 840 children have benefited from speech therapy camps which help them overcome speech difficulties after surgery. His team of paramedics with physiotherapy skills also visit the patients who have undergone reconstructive surgery in their villages for follow up and therapy. Rai provides training to doctors, nurses, therapists and surgeons, extending the amount of medical assistance given to children across the globe. He hosts Internet discussion forums to pass on his knowledge of reconstructive surgery to others. Because of Rai and the Interplast Surgical Outreach Program, thousands of children are getting a new chance at life.