SAN DIEGO -- Three reconstructive plastic surgery patients will be honored for their resilience and commitment to their communities as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) celebrates the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity awards program’s 10th anniversary.

This year’s honorees, Molly Bloom, Emily Keefner and Carson Tinker, will be recognized during a special president’s panel titled, “Patients of Courage – Beyond the Surgery: A 10 Year Celebration,” at Plastic Surgery The Meeting on October 12 at the San Diego Convention Center.

This year’s awards program, supported through a grant from the Integra Foundation, recognizes inspirational reconstructive plastic surgery patients who use their experiences, strength and determination to help others in need and give back to their communities through charitable work. The Patients of Courage program has honored more than 45 patients since its inception.

“Since 2003, the Patients of Courage program has grown in popularity, taught us great lessons about the human spirit, and given us all something to rally around year after year at our annual meeting,” said ASPS President Gregory Evans, MD. “This year’s honorees demonstrate extraordinary courage and commitment to improving the lives of others.”

New this year, the honorees and their plastic surgeons will participate in a discussion about cultivating the doctor patient relationship during the ASPS president’s panel. An anniversary video titled, “A Decade of Courage,” will also be shown.

“We are humbled and privileged to have the opportunity to honor the recipients of the 2013 Patients of Courage awards. The ability to support others during your own challenging journey shows extraordinary strength and character. We applaud the difference that these recipients have made to others in their time of need,” said Linda Littlejohns RN MSN FAAN, president, Integra Foundation. “Our Foundation has been grateful for the chance to be actively involved in supporting patients and their families after life-changing events, since our inception in 2001.”

Integra Foundation is generously donating three, $3,000 grants to non-profit organizations chosen by each of the Patients of Courage. The 2013 Patients of Courage honorees are:

Molly Bloom of Denver

As Molly Bloom stepped into a Hummer limousine on prom night 2006, the driver accidentally pulled away, dragging Bloom’s left leg under the vehicle for more than 40 feet. The life threatening injury required amputation of her left leg, hip and the left half of her pelvis. After nearly 20 intensive surgeries, Bloom began immersing herself in adaptive athletics, sports for people with disabilities. Bloom played for the Denver Women’s Rolling Nuggets wheelchair basketball team, where she helped the team win the 2011 National Championship title. She currently works with Wheelchair Athletes Worldwide, a non-profit that brings wheelchair sports to countries where access is limited. Molly has dedicated her current graduate studies to researching the role of the disability community in the lives of disabled people. In 2007, Molly and her family established the Bloom Again Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides grants for equipment or activities for individuals with disabilities who want to enhance their recovery through physical activities and sports.

Emily Keefner of Canaan, N.Y.

At just 18 years old, Emily Keefner has endured more than 30 reconstructive procedures to correct a bilateral cleft lip and palate deformity. She has been a patient of the Craniofacial Clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center since she was born, and is now giving back to the institution that has treated her since birth. Emily has raised $8,000 towards a $50,000 multidisciplinary database for the Clinic which will allow them to track patient outcomes, national trials, and provide consistent outreach. She has three more fundraisers planned, has garnered political support in the region and is looking to change payment laws in New York. Emily has contributed more than 500 hours of volunteering for the Clinic, her local food pantry, the fire department and the Berkshire Humane Society. She is a member of the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York, a certified first responder and an excellent flutist—a particularly difficult instrument for a cleft palate patient.

Carson Tinker of Tuscaloosa, Ala.

NFL Rookie Carson Tinker had a long, challenging road to making the Jacksonville Jaguars football team this summer. While in college, Carson, a long snapper for the Alabama Crimson Tide, sustained a serious soft tissue injury to his right leg in the 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado that took the life of his girlfriend. A traditional flap repair would have jeopardized Carson’s football career, so his plastic surgeon performed wound therapy, dressing changes and an off label use of a graft product to help him heal with minimal defect. Following the tornado, Carson and the Crimson Tide served as examples of the strength and spirit required to rebuild devastated lives and communities. Carson led his team to two consecutive national championship titles and says, "You are not defined by your circumstances or adversity. You are defined by how you respond to them." Carson works tirelessly as a motivational speaker around the country and participates in countless fundraisers. His autobiography is due out next spring.

Reporters can register to attend Plastic Surgery The Meeting, or arrange interviews with presenters, by contacting ASPS Public Relations at (847) 228-9900, media@plasticsurgery.org or in San Diego, Oct. 11-15, at (619) 525-6330.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic 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. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

Contact ASPS

Media Relations
(847) 228-9900
media@plasticsurgery.org