ASAPS-Member Surgeons Volunteer for Service to Victims of Terrorist Attacks
New York, NY (September 17, 2001) — Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) are among the dedicated medical personnel assisting victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In addition to those plastic surgeons already actively involved in treating the injured, ASAPS has received e-mails from its members around the country, and around the world, volunteering to assist in whatever ways possible.
“We have received e-mails not only from our American members, asking what they can do to help and offering to come to New York or wherever they are needed, but we’ve also heard from plastic surgeons as far away as Australia, Brazil, Israel and Russia,” says ASAPS President Malcolm D. Paul, MD. “All of us are united in our resolve to do whatever we can – now and in the future -- for the victims of this terrible tragedy.”
New York area hospitals say that they are fully staffed with plastic surgeons at present and not in need of additional assistance. Some ASAPS members who rushed to hospitals immediately upon learning of the situation at the World Trade Center were put on standby. Others, mainly those who are on staff at hospitals in close proximity to the disaster, were put to work caring for the injured.
“I was very privileged to be actively involved with the care of the World Trade Center patients,” says plastic surgeon Joseph M. Jabbour, MD, on staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York. “St. Vincent’s is the Trauma Center located nearest to the WTC. We were as prepared as anyone can be for such an unbelievable crisis.
“The plastic surgery patients, who mostly were suffering from burns, underwent immediate debridement of the skin that was literally hanging off of their arms and legs. After stabilization, the worst of the burn patients were transferred to the Burn Unit at New York Hospital.”
Another ASAPS-member surgeon, Alan Matarasso, MD, said he and many of his colleagues who rushed to area hospitals felt very frustrated that they could not, personally, do more to help.
“At the ambulance receiving entrance to the emergency room, there were hundreds of volunteers -- physician assistants, nurses, medical students and residents from all specialties, along with orderlies and hospital administrators – all of us anxiously waiting to be called into action. Only after many hours on stand-by was it finally clear, based on news reports and returning emergency rescue teams, that there was nothing for most of the medical volunteers to do.
“There were so few saved. Most of the manned trauma rooms, with all personnel on disaster alert, remained shockingly empty. The sense of helplessness was truly overwhelming.”
Dr. Jabbour reports that the staff of St. Vincent’s continues to provide ongoing treatment to the surviving victims. “The first skin grafts have been performed, and the work continues,” he says. Despite the tireless efforts of so many medical personnel, says Dr. Jabbour, the real heroes are the rescuers. “This is a time to give thanks to those who risked and lost their lives so that as many victims as possible could reach us. Without those heroes, we could have done nothing. God bless them and all those who perished, and God bless those who remain.”
ASAPS-member plastic surgeons wishing to volunteer assistance are currently being directed to the American Medical Association (312-464-4584, or 312-464-4422) which is compiling a list of physicians who will be called upon should the need arise.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.
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