As an oculoplastic surgeon, I am privileged to help patients who experience vision loss and facial disfigurement from trauma, congenital deformities, and cancer. In my 10 years of clinical practice, I have countless stories of patients who are paralyzed by their insecurities of how they appear to others and to themselves. All of my patients share a common ground of seeking to improve how they feel about themselves because of their deformities. Most of the surgeries I do are minor, but the seemingly small corrections matter significantly for the patients who receive these procedures.
Often, the overall surgical outcome is affected by access to subspecialized care such as mine. When I started to look into the overall access of my subspecialty globally, I realized that there was a major need. I attempted to partner with existing nonprofit organizations that were already carrying out similar medical missions in hopes to tag along and be the access point for oculoplastic surgery. However, I was met with an unwillingness to collaborate.
Not taking “no” for an answer, I started Project Theia with another oculoplastic surgeon, Katie Duncan, MD. Today, Project Theia is a 501c3 organization focused on providing access and education specifically in oculoplastics and facial reconstructive surgeries in low-income, middle-income, and developing countries.