“The Webster Fellowship is a dream come true for me,” Dr. Kaufman said. “I strongly believe in the mission of Interplast. During my training, I have seen the dramatic influence that reconstructive surgery has on patients and their families, and I look forward to this opportunity to care for people who have no other means of obtaining this type of medical help.”
Interplast is the nonprofit organization that sends medical volunteers to developing countries to provide free reconstructive surgeries for needy children. As the Webster Fellow, Dr. Kaufman will travel to over sea countries, working with teams of volunteer doctors and nurses to perform life-changing surgeries for children with cleft lip, cleft palate or severe burns.
Dr. Kaufman lives is currently a chief resident in plastic surgery at the University Medical Center. He earned his medical degree from Harvard University Medical School and completed an integrated plastic surgery and general surgery residency at Stanford. He graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy, and served four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Seals. While a lieutenant, Dr. Kaufman served with Seal Team Five in the Persian Gulf arena during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
As the Webster Fellow, Dr. Kaufman will participate in surgical trips to approximately ten different Interplast sites around the world. During each trip, he and the Interplast teams will treat 85 to 100 children. Dr. Kaufman will also conduct pre-and post-trip clinics at select sites, assist with establishing new Interplast sites, and formulate teaching programs and materials for host-country medical colleagues. “I look forward to working with local physicians to provide instruction in various surgical techniques and procedures,” notes Dr. Kaufman. “Providing this type of education and training ultimately will leave the legacy of greatest consequence.”
Interplast established the fellowship in 1999 in memory of Dr. Jerome P. Webster, one of the early pioneers in plastic surgery and a paragon of integrity, skill and service. Every fall, a newly trained, Board-eligible plastic surgeon is selected to spend one full year working with Interplast. Dr. Kaufman was chosen from a group of six outstanding candidates. “We were very impressed with all of the surgeons we interviewed for the fellowship and hope they will become involved with Interplast as volunteers,” notes plastic surgeon Dr. David Dingman, Interplast’s Medical Program Director, who supervises the Webster Fellowship.
Dr. Kaufman officially assumes his position as Interplast’s Webster Fellow on July 1. He has previously volunteered in various health-care programs overseas, and found his experiences to be among the most personally and professionally satisfying of his medical career. “I can think of nothing better than making a year’s commitment to serve Interplast as the Webster Fellow,” he says, “because I know that providing care to the underserved will remain an important component of my life.”
Interplast’s volunteer medical teams treat children with cleft lip, cleft palate, or children who have suffered severe burns or other crippling injuries. Interplast also manages several education and training programs to instruct host country doctors and nurses in advanced techniques and related patient care, and supports their efforts to develop and manage outreach programs to help their own countries underserved populations.