American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Three Reconstructive Patients Honored as 2014 Patients of Courage

CHICAGO – Three reconstructive plastic surgery patients will be honored for their spirit and commitment to their communities as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) celebrates the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity awards program's 11th anniversary.

The 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.

"This year's Patients of Courage awardees have shown a remarkable ability to not only heal themselves, but to heal those around them and in their communities," said ASPS President Robert X. Murphy, Jr., MD. "What an incredible thing to be able to grow, progress and inspire after each one of our Patients of Courage endured a life-threatening and physically-altering experience. I am honored by their acceptance of this recognition."

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. Integra Foundation is generously donating three, $5,000 grants to non-profit organizations chosen by each of the Patients of Courage.

"We have had the great honor of supporting patients and their families after life-changing events since our inception in 2002," said Linda Littlejohns RN MSN FAAN, President, Integra Foundation. "Partnering together with ASPS on this awe-inspiring program has enabled our foundation to further a vision of enriched human health. We are humbled and inspired by the recipients of the 2014 Patients of Courage awards and applaud their selfless acts to give to others in need."

The 2014 Patients of Courage honorees are:

Carol Rech of Middletown, N.J.

Carol Rech was diagnosed with Stage IIIC breast cancer in 2006. She told her children about a woman she met who was also undergoing treatment but struggling financially. Carol's daughter was so moved that she and her cousin co-founded Breast Intentions, a charity whose mission is to provide crisis intervention for women battling breast cancer and facing financial hardship. The organization also serves to educate young women about the need for regular breast self-examinations.

Carol jumped into fundraising efforts and has helped establish three additional chapters. As the organization's only full time volunteer, Carol has personally helped more than 225 women facing breast cancer. She serves as inspiration to women who need to talk to someone about their survival.

To date, Breast Intentions has raised more than $850,000 for women in crisis. Carol's strength, humor, compassion and altruism are qualities that set her apart. She has taken a devastating diagnosis and used it to help create an organization that is a lifeline for other women at their darkest hour.

Aesha Mohammazai of Afghanistan

Aesha Mohammazai was horribly mutilated as a child in Afghanistan. Her family gave her away as payment for a family member's crime. Aesha tried to escape, but she was caught and was punished with the brutal amputation of her nose and ears.

After she was brought to an American military base for medical treatment, Aesha began her journey of healing and emigration. She came to the United States, where she bonded with a family that provided her with love and support. At Walter Reed Medical Center, Aesha underwent nearly a dozen surgeries to restore her nose and ears, including a radial forearm flap for lining, rib cartilage for support, a paramedian forehead flap and ear reconstruction.

Aesha is now comfortable with her appearance and attends school. She is writing a book, serves as a spokesperson for women's rights and is sharing her story with the world to encourage awareness of the mistreatment of women globally. She is a fighter who demands freedom and a better life. Aesha embodies courage and bravery.

Tyler Southern of Saint Augustine, Fla.

In 2010, Marine Corporal Tyler Southern was deployed in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device (IED) changed his life forever. Following life-saving surgery and amputations of his right arm and both legs, Tyler awoke 13 days later in Bethesda, Md., happy to be alive. However, his left arm was also badly injured that an infection threatened a fourth amputation.

A true inspiration, Tyler remained hopeful and refused to give up. His medical team performed daily debridement, flap coverage and bone reconstruction, which ultimately saved the limb. After years of surgeries, rehabilitation and chronic pain, Tyler continues to give back to others by working to improve the lives of his fellow wounded soldiers. He has teamed with Navy SEAL Jason Redman, who formed the nonprofit organization, Wounded Wear, which helps fellow servicemen and servicewomen wounded in combat rediscover the hero within. The organization provides free clothing and clothing modifications to wounded warriors and helps raise awareness of their sacrifices.

"You can't change things," Tyler says speaking of his injuries, "but you can change how you react to what life throws at you."

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 11,000 physician members worldwide, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 92 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.

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