R.E.S.T.O.R.E. was founded after inspiration from two of my mentors, Dr. Linda G. Phillips, Professor and Chief, Division of Plastic Surgery at The University of Texas Medical Branch and Dr. John H.Miller, who is currently in private practice in Mississippi. Organizations such as Operation Smile and Operation Good Samaritan greatly inspired and influenced me. In 2000, Dr. Miller planted the seed of R.E.S.T.O.R.E. in my heart after inquiring from about how to go about going to Ghana, my home country to help kids with congenital hand deformities.
Growing up in Ghana, I witnessed disease, illness, and disfigurements that were attributed to supernatural forces such as witchcraft. I also witnessed firsthand the great work of Operation Smile after this organization repaired facial deformities of a neighbor. This coupled with the premature death of my mother and grandmother due to complications of decubitus ulcer propelled me to seek a career as a physician and a plastic surgeon and ultimately inspired me to start this much needed philanthropic organization to educate and heal those in need.
Many developing countries shun those afflicted with congenital or accidental deformities and look upon them as outcasts or “freaks”. Often, their own families hide them from the general public to spare them from either being ridiculed or physically harmed because of their disfigured appearance.
Although there is an overwhelming need for reconstructive surgery in developing countries, these types of surgeries are not readily available because of the lack of properly medical technicians to provide the necessary services. Responding to the plight of these individuals is the focus of RESTORE. As part of our mission, we seek to educate and train local physicians in the techniques necessary to carry out our initial work and to benefit people in years to come.
In 2009, I focused on breast cancer and breast deformities after reading an article on breast cancer in Ghanaian women, which cited a mortality rate of 17-24%. Most of these women would rather die of the disease than lose a husband or boyfriend who will never view them as “whole” if they underwent a mastectomy without reconstruction. In a monumental feat, I performed the region’s first immediate breast reconstruction using abdominal tissue, following a mastectomy on a nurse who had been diagnosed with breast cancer the previous year. She had refused to undergo a mastectomy without reconstruction because of the fear of losing her husband and never being a “whole” woman again. I taught two local plastic surgeons how to perform this operation.
In addition, I gave lectures on breast anatomy, breast cancer and reconstruction, and performed 15 major operations including: (1) congenital nasal reconstruction, (2) correction of congenital asymmetric breast deformities, and multiple breast deformities, (3) immediate breast reconstruction for breast cancer, (4) breast reduction surgery, (5) excision of accessory (multiple) breasts, (6) correction of congenital hand deformities, (7) excision and complex repair of non-healing mastectomy wounds. I evaluated over 75 patients and spoke on a local radio station, educating women about the myths of breast cancer.
In 2010, R.E.S.T.O.R.E. made its first official mission trip to Ghana to once again R.E.S.T.O.R.E. hope, function and aesthetic form under my direction. The team consisted of myself, a certified nurse anesthetist, an operating room nurse, a recovery nurse, a surgical tech and an educator/helper. Later that year in August, R.E.S.T.O.R.E. partnered with Mission of Love Foundation to provide care to children in Guatemala with cleft lip and palate.
Future missions will include trips to Gabon, Columbia, El Salvador, Burma and Vietnam. All volunteers who participate in RESTORE’s mission do so at their own will without compensation. But there are still costs to provide medical and surgical supplies, to transport the team and to provide lodging. I humbly ask for your support in the form of monetary gifts and wills to help RESTORE in accomplishing its missions of helping unfortunate ones with disfiguring deformities and educating local healthcare personnel.
Your philanthropic monetary gift and/or endorsement will make our outreach work possible. As we continue our mission around the globe and continue to grow, your support will help establish a solid home office with a full time employee who can run the day-to-day activities and coordinate our volunteer efforts as well as coordinate the countries around the globe that we plan to do our mission trips and relieve me from the administrative duties to allow me to concentrate on delivering quality care to my patients.