Dr. Ethan Handler, a cosmetic surgeon from California, found himself on the outskirts of Quito, the expansive capital city of Ecuador.
Traveling with five other surgeons from Kaiser Permanente and the University of California at Davis, they focus on performing reconstructive surgery on the hapless children who are victims of congenital cleft lips and/or palates. These children are stigmatized and shunned within their community because of their deformity. That is, until these five surgeons recreated their reality.
While operating on the locals, some who walked for days before arriving at the clinic, Dr. Handler experiences the deep and humbling satisfaction often associated with service work. He reflects back on how many people supported him in arriving at this place in life, a place where because of his specialized skill set, he is able to transform lives.
He is truly thankful for this opportunity. Dr. Handler discovers for himself that “this is the purest form of medicine, providing care without expectation of remuneration.”
Post operatively, dozens of surgical patients are placed together in one large room. The heat is oppressive, the air stiflingly humid, doctors and patients alike are sweating profusely, and no one is complaining or asking for a private recovery room. Smiles abound and gratitude pours forth from local eyes and lips. The doctors perform 50 operations in five days, each surgery as important as the next. Those patients who were turned away will have another opportunity to undergo the life changing event with subsequent mission trips and surgical volunteers planned in the future.
In the years to come, Dr. Handler and his medical friends envision creating their own nonprofit that frequently travels abroad and offers a wide array of surgical services as. Participating in medical missions and helping those who truly don’t have the means to help themselves is one of the great benefits of practicing medicine in the modern age. Dr. Handler himself would like to re-visit Central and South America and Southeast Asia as well as one day serve in Africa. Ethan believes everyone deserves health care and recognizes the honor bestowed upon him when those in physical and/or mental/emotional pain place their trust and hope in his hands.
Dr. Handler is currently practicing cosmetic surgery in California. Daily, he witnesses people suffering from a broken self image, the cause of which may be their own voice or the voices of those around them. Regardless, small modifications in their physical body can substantially increase their joy in life. Dr. Handler is delighted to provide people with a service that makes them happier.