Patients of Courage logoThe Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity program honors reconstructive plastic surgery patients whose lives were restored through reconstructive plastic surgery and whose charitable actions influence the lives around them.

ASPS members nominate patients who carry an optimistic outlook on life and positively affect people around them, despite the difficulties of their reconstructive procedures.  These extraordinary reconstructive plastic surgery patients are honored by ASPS at its annual scientific meeting.

2011 Patients of Courage

Aaron Mankin | San Antonio

U.S. Marine Corps journalist Aaron Mankin was severely burned during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 when his vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device. Mankin, one of the few survivors of the attack, suffered burns over 25-30% of his body and lost his nose and both ears. He had more than 55 surgeries including reconstruction of both cheeks, upper and lower lips, and ears.

Mankin has since become a spokesman for severely burned and injured servicemen and women, raising awareness of "Operation Mend", a partnership between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center and the VA-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, established to treat U.S. military personnel severely wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dee Dee Ricks | New York City

Dee Dee Ricks' breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 38 did anything but slow her down. After diagnosis, Ricks channeled her energy towards treating underserved communities in New York City through the Ralph Lauren Center (RLC) for Cancer Care. After undergoing a bilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction, Ricks raised nearly $3.1 million to match an initial endowment for the RLC while undergoing 22 months of chemotherapy.

Ricks also created The Education of Dee Dee Ricks, a documentary about her breast cancer journey. She has also been instrumental in developing a national corps of patient navigators to improve standards of practice and compassionate care for underserved individuals.

Jamie Verdi | Rochester, MI

Jamie Verdi was born with a facial cleft and underwent her first intracranial surgery at the young age of two. Forty years worth of reconstructive procedures followed, but Verdi's craniofacial condition didn't prevent her from being an activist on behalf of others.

In 2008, Verdi founded her own law firm, MI-PAL (Michigan Patient Advocacy Liaison) where she provides pro bono legal services to veterans and their widows, advocates for the insurance and health care needs of the elderly, and provides legal services to people with mental and physical illnesses and their family members.

Dallas Wiens | Fort Worth, TX

Dallas Wiens' doctors were not optimistic about his survival when the 24-year-old suffered 4th degree burns on his face after coming in contact with a high-voltage electrical wire nearly three years ago. Wiens not only survived the critical first 72 hours, but after coming out of a 3-month coma, he endured dozens of subsequent reconstructive facial plastic surgery procedures.

In March 2011, Wiens underwent a 15-hour surgery to become the first person to receive a full-face transplant in the United States. Wiens is giving back to the community by establishing the About Face Foundation which generates resources to help others with similar medical conditions.

3D Patient Education Animations
Preview 3D patient-education animations, available from
Free Resources
Free physician resources on a variety of topics, including health policy, advocacy and practice management.
Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity
The stories of Patients of Courage honorees, reconstructive plastic surgery patients whose lives were restored through reconstructive plastic surgery and whose charitable actions influence the lives around them.
Patients of Courage, 2012
ASPS honored five breast cancer survivors who underwent breast reconstruction and used the experience to give back to their communities. The awards were held in New Orleans.
Patients of Courage, 2010
ASPS honored former Arizona police officer Jason Schecterle, breast cancer survivor Donna Creighton, Saydee Robinson and Marcus Engle at its annual meeting in 2010.
Patients of Courage, 2009
ASPS honored children's book author Abigail Hardin, Jane Escher, Udday Hattam and Janet Smith as Patients of Courage during its annual meeting in 2009.
Patient Stories: Reconstructing Lives
Reconstructing Lives highlights state-of-the-art reconstructive procedures through compelling stories of unique patient experiences.
Breast reconstruction may not be the right option for every woman, but for many, it is a life-changing procedure. The mission of BRA Day is to “develop and advance an internationally recognized day that promotes awareness and access to post-cancer breast reconstruction surgery."
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day USA, was created to raise awareness and educate women about her breast reconstruction options post-mastectomy (after removal of breast for cancer). Not only are there are multiple breast reconstruction options, but these options can be tailored to each patient’s particular cancer type, body shape and personal preference.
Last week was quite a busy week in the public relations office of ASPS. Without much notice, came the revelation, shared by Angelina Jolie, that she had undergone prophylactic mastectomies and reconstruction due to her high risks of developing breast cancer. As you might imagine, this prompted a lot of attention for plastic surgeons and cancer surgeons alike. From where I sit, her sharing of her story was open, honest, and – well – courageous. But it has surprised me that in some of the press, there have been some very negative comments about what she has done or how she has shared this.
Patient Safety Resources
The ASPS Patient Safety Committee has compiled these patient safety resources to assist physicians in clinical decision making.
Ambulatory and Office Based Surgery Center
Resources for ambulatory and office based surgery centers
Operating Room Safety
Resources to promote patient safety in the operating room
Preoperative Assessment
Preoperative assessment resources to ensure proper patient selection
Patient Selection Resources
Helpful resources when assessing your patients for plastic surgery procedures
Informed Consent Resources
Informed consent and patient release resources
Breast Procedures
Documents include practice parameters and insurance coverage criteria on breast implants, breast reconstruction, breast reduction and gynecomastia.
Key Issues in Plastic Surgery
A range of papers on health policy and advocacy issues in plastic surgery, including cosmetic procedure taxes, dental scope of practice, emergency care, and professional liability.
Patients of Courage, 2013
ASPS honored five breast cancer survivors who underwent breast reconstruction and used the experience to give back to their communities. The awards were held in New Orleans.