Pediatric Plastic Surgery

Community Events

The University of Miami-Division of Plastic Surgery is “Spreading Smiles” on and off campus…

Samantha Viveros, who has been a Cleft Lip patient of Dr. Thaller’s since birth threw the “1st pitch” at the Miami Marlins vs. St. Louis Cardinals game at the Marlins Stadium on June 23, 2015. Samantha has endured a number a number of surgeries throughout her life; however, she has been able to successfully overcome many obstacles. Currently, Samantha is a student at Miami Dade College studying Culinary Arts Management. Her entire family remains very grateful to Dr. Thaller, the UM team and staff for many years of care and support.

The division has also participated in UM’s “Day at the Marlins” event providing educational information/awareness on Cleft Lip and Palate to all attending the game. Dr. Thaller and his staff are constantly trying to promote their services in several yearly events including the “Spreading Smiles” luncheon held at Renato’s Restaurant in Palm Beach, Fl as well as the “Miles for Smiles” 5K run/walk which will be held on April 17, 2016 in Charnow Park Hollywood, Fl.


Ten Years of Partnership: How Surgeons from the U.S and Haiti Save Lives in Port-au-Prince

December 2015

Port-au-Prince. On a hot November’s day in Port-au-Prince, 38-year-old Albert Mettelus is lying in a small bed at the Bernard Mevs Hospital. He is wearing a patient’s surgical gown and is about to have for an operation that he has wanted for more than 20 years. Albert was born with a cleft-lip, a condition that happens as the baby develops during pregnancy and causes a gap in their upper lip. Children born with this condition in the United States have an operation as soon as they are old enough but in Haiti there are only a few surgeons with the expertise to carry out this sort of procedure.

“I have known for about 20 years that it is possible to have an operation to heal my lip. I didn’t want to see myself this way anymore but I didn’t know where I could go and I didn’t have any money”, explains Albert. “Then I heard on the radio that I could come to Bernard Mevs Hospital to have my lip healed”.

Albert is one of many patients at the Bernard Mevs Hospital whose care has been provided with the support of surgical mission trips organised by the hospital and Project Medishare.

The first of these trips took place more than a decade ago, when specialised surgeons from the Unites States came to operate on children suffering from hydrocephalus- a condition caused by a build up of water on the brain- and Haitians in need to plastic surgery. Over time and after the devastating earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010 decimated the capital’s medical infrastructure and maimed thousands of people, the partnership between Hospital Bernard Mevs and surgical mission trips became permanent.

The importance of continuous support and partnership

While surgical mission trips are important to help treat complicated conditions and save lives, visiting surgeons and physicians also offer intensive training for Haitian staff to ensure capacity for the future. This requires continuous follow up and long-term distance training between hospitals in the United States, Canada and Bernard Mevs.

Looking back at ten years of trips, surgeon and Project Medishare board member Dr. Vincent A. DeGennaro says, “ We started surgical mission trips as a way to save people with complicated conditions in Haiti. We soon realised that these trips were an essential part of building medical capacity. You can’t just train more surgeons, you must develop the abilities and expertise of those who are already in the medical system”. In order to ensure this regular contact, Dr Thaller, my partner in this program, has made a huge achievement by allowing American residents to obtain credit for the work they do in Haiti. This will open the door to American medical schools to expand the capacity building we have started”.

Today, Hospital Bernard Mevs is a wholly unique entity in Haiti. Thanks to support from the Haitian government and the continuous commitment of Project Medishare surgical teams from the U.S. and Broken Earth in Canada this public-private partnership has delivered a hospital that aims to give the highest standard of surgical and critical care to the people of Haiti.

This partnership has lead to a number of achievements over the last decade. The complex wound care program based in the Hospital Bernard Mevs that sees over 50 patient per day and is now operated by entirely Haitian staff and trained in Haiti. Haiti’s first neurosurgery residency is also currently on the horizon and will be established at Hospital Bernard Mevs. This position will aim to train twice the current number of neurosurgeons over the next decade in Haiti. On average there is a surgical team operating at Hospital Bernard Mevs one week out of every month. The hospital currently provides services to 60,000 patients per year and performs 1,300 operations.

For patients like Albert, what really matters is having access to the care they desperately need and spent a lifetime trying to find. Three weeks later, he is back at the hospital for a check-up. “The person I am most happy for is my daughter” he says, “She is four years old and she is so happy that her daddy is fixed. For me, I feel proud for the first time in life”.

But behind Albert’s new smile lies a decade of partnership and commitment that allows Haitian and U.S. surgeons to work together, save lives and pave the way for the future.