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Patients of Courage Transcend Physical Disfigurement, Help Others

Awards Presented at American Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting

BALTIMORE, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Being burned over 85 percent of your body or losing your breasts at age 26 would devastate even the most steadfast person. Despite horrific obstacles like these, some plastic surgery patients turn these challenges into opportunities to inspire and help others in need. Four such reconstructive plastic surgery heroes will be honored by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) at Plastic Surgery 2007 on Oct. 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The ASPS program "Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity" annually recognizes four remarkable individuals nominated by their plastic surgeons. The awards exemplify achievements of reconstructive plastic surgery, which not only restores and rebuilds patients' bodies but their lives as well. Although only four awards will be presented, ASPS Member Surgeons treat patients of courage every day, each with a unique and noteworthy tale of overcoming adversity.

"The Patients of Courage have boldly faced the physical challenges of their injuries and risen above them. Their reconstructive journey has also helped them internally heal and continue their lives," stated ASPS President Roxanne Guy, MD. "We are proud to see the positive influences our patients can have on society when they are given the opportunity."

Scott Rigsby, 39, of Atlanta, was thrown from the back of a pickup truck and dragged over 300 feet under a flat bed trailer. Only 18 years old, he suffered severe damage to both legs and his right leg was amputated that day. He underwent 26 procedures on his left leg over the next 12 years. Physically and mentally exhausted, Scott elected to have his left leg amputated and never looked back. He is the first below-the-knee double amputee to complete a full marathon, an Olympic triathlon and a half Ironman on prostheses. In October, Scott is attempting to set another world record at the Hawaiian Ironman competition. He started the Getting 2 Try Foundation that pairs physically challenged athletes with able-bodied tri-athletes to complete in multi-sport events and the Scott Rigsby Foundation which is dedicated to supporting physically challenged athletes and their athletic pursuits.

A.J. Reed, 22, of Waynesboro, Ga., thought he did not have much to live for as a teenager. At age 16, after years of feeling alone, unloved and depressed, he picked up a 12-gauge shotgun and shot himself in the head. The shot ripped through his face, barely missing his brain, removing 60 percent of his facial structure. His family was initially told there was nothing that could be done, but they did not give up and found an ASPS Member Surgeon who would take his case. A.J. has undergone more than 30 surgical procedures to rebuild his face and completely changed his outlook on life. Believing his life was spared for a reason, he is on a mission to help others. A.J. now speaks to youth groups in several states about suicide prevention and is preparing to become a youth pastor and counselor.

In 2003, Allyson Roach, 24, of Valley Center, Calif., was caught in the worst fire in California history and suffered burns over 85 percent of her body. Age 20 at the time, she underwent two months of procedures to remove dead skin and replace it with grafted skin, had all of her fingers amputated and was left with serious scars on her arms, eyelids, mouth, lips, ears, jaw and neck. Since then, Allyson had 10 more operations to manage the scarring and rebuild her face. She returned to college and now works as a photographer at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Allyson volunteers with her church and is active in the Burn Institute, which provides support and motivation to young burn patients. She and her ASPS Member Surgeon founded the Ashleigh Roach Memorial Burn Foundation, in honor of Allyson's sister who died in the fire. The Foundation offers scholarships to high school students and promotes advances in burn care.

Beth Silverman, 29, of Farmingdale, N.Y., was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 26 years old. After having a lumpectomy followed by four months of chemotherapy, Beth decided to undergo bilateral mastectomies and immediate TRAM flap breast reconstruction despite her concerns about the emotional consequence of losing her breasts. Today, Beth is supporting others facing the same fate. She and her ASPS Member Surgeon are looking to "change the face of breast reconstruction" by starting, which launches this month. Volunteering as a counselor and speaking at fundraisers, she is an active member of, the American Cancer Society, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Young Survival Coalition and Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition.

The Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity program is supported by Ethicon Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company.

Visit for referrals to ASPS Member Surgeons and to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 90 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

SOURCE American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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