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Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Patients Honored for Giving Back

Ceremony at American Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting

Seattle, WA (Vocus) October 16, 2009 -- An injured Iraqi citizen, a port wine stain patient, a breast reconstruction patient and a skin cancer patient will be named honorees of the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity awards by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) at Plastic Surgery 2009, October 24, 4:30 p.m., at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle. These unselfish individuals endured numerous reconstructive plastic surgeries and use their experiences, strength and determination to help others in need.

The Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity program is supported by Ethicon, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company. Continuing in the spirit of giving, Ethicon will donate, on behalf of each of the honorees, $5,000 to four non-profit organizations providing reconstructive plastic surgery services to people in need.

"ASPS Member Surgeons are humbled by the achievements of their patients," said ASPS President John Canady, MD. "It is so impressive to see our patients doing such good things for so many people."

Uday Hattem, Staten Island, N.Y. - As a citizen of Baghdad, Iraq, Hattem signed on as a translator for the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In May, 2003, Hattem ventured out for supplies for the troops when he encountered a group of insurgents who shot him at close range in the face, neck, and arm and left him for dead. He suffered facial deformities losing his right eye, cheek, palate, and partial mandible. In a twist of fate, the founder of Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF) met Hattem in an Iraqi hospital and sought aid from doctors in the United States. Hattem arrived in New York after receiving a Certificate of Honor for his heroism. He underwent microsurgical reconstruction of the cheek and orbit followed by facial flap rotation for soft tissue coverage. He also required bone grafts, nasal reconstruction, as well as numerous skin, cartilage, and fat grafts to improve the color and contour mismatch on his face. Grateful for all he's been given, Hattem gives back to those in need by actively participating in the GMRF efforts to bring Iraqi children injured during war to the United States.

Abigail Hardin, Clinton, Miss. - Hardin, currently a student at the University of Alabama, was born with a right cheek capillary vascular malformation - port wine stain. She received several laser treatments throughout her childhood to try to alleviate the malformation. Based on her life experiences, she recently published a children's book entitled "Look at me; I'm just like you" about a hippopotamus named Lucy who has a port wine stain on her cheek. Lucy is the subject of peer ridicule and teaches her classmates to accept and respect other

children with facial and functional deformities. Hardin travels to schools to read her book to school children, giving both teachers and students the opportunity to increase their awareness of the self-esteem and emotional issues facing children perceived as "different." Hardin also started a foundation called Open My Eyes whose sole purpose is to fund projects that promote character-development in children. A percentage of the sales of her book will go to support the ongoing mission of her foundation.

Janet Smith, Canton, Ohio - Smith was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma of her left breast and underwent lumpectomy. After chemo and radiation therapy, she developed inflammatory carcinoma invading the skin and lymph nodes. This was followed by 10 cycles of chemo, and she was given a poor prognosis. A latissimus dorsi flap was unsuccessful, and she was left with an extensive chest wall wound which had to be covered with skin grafts. She recently developed inflammatory disease in the right breast and underwent a right mastectomy with advancement flap for closure. Her spirits remain high throughout her numerous surgical procedures and therapies. Next to her family, music is her joy. She volunteers with the music program at McKinley Senior High School teaching children the gift of music. Smith leads the FACES of Stark County, an agency of parents who have been successful navigating the various systems for their own children and now help other parents find appropriate services for their children.

Jane Escher, Easton, Md. - Escher was diagnosed, at age 82, with an aggressive basal cell carcinoma on her nose, a cancer she successfully fought twice before. She sought the expertise of a MOHS' surgeon, but the cancer was more widespread than initially believed, and she was left with a large nasal defect that ended up requiring a forehead flap reconstruction. Not wanting to miss work, Escher returned to work within a week, even though her reconstruction was not completely finished. She is an outreach nurse for the Shore Regional Breast Center giving uninsured women access to life-saving cancer screenings. Escher is an inspiration to everyone around her, especially her young cancer patients, as they are inspired seeing an elder woman tackle the difficulties of skin cancer and reconstructive surgeries. She is a senior citizen who never let cancer slow her down in her quest to care for others as a nurse at the underserved Shore Regional Breast Center.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 7,000 physician members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 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.

Editor's Note: Reporters can register to attend Plastic Surgery 2009 and arrange interviews with presenters by logging on to or by contacting ASPS Public Relations at 847-228-9900 or in Seattle, Oct. 24 - Oct. 27 at (206) 219-4726.


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