2011 Patients of Courage
Marine Cpl. Aaron Mankin
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
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 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' 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.