SOURCE: AAOS

March 05, 2008 13:10 ET

Changing Lives... One Project at a Time

Orthopaedic Surgeon Receives Distinguished Humanitarian Award

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 5, 2008) - Touching patients, physicians and underdeveloped communities in more than twenty countries around the globe, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Kaye Wilkins, MD, has spent his entire career teaching people to become more self-sufficient. Today at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), Dr. Wilkins was the recipient of the ninth annual Humanitarian Award.

"This is a special honor given on behalf of my colleagues and I am very humbled," said Kaye Wilkins, MD.

Early in his career, Dr. Wilkins realized there was a huge disparity in the delivery of orthopaedic care between developed and underdeveloped nations. When he settled in San Antonio, Texas, he wanted to do something about it.

His first humanitarian project was with Amigos de las Americas, where he trained high school and college students to provide free vaccinations to the underserved populations in Central and South America. Dr. Wilkins then became part of the group, Partners of America, teaching area orthopaedic surgeons in Peru how to manage pediatric orthopaedic conditions. He established an exchange program whereby physicians from Texas and Peru shared their talents and over the course of his career, has educated countless numbers of foreign health professionals in new techniques and concepts. These physicians have all gone on to educate their colleagues about what they learned as a result of Dr. Wilkins and his teaching.

"He is an inspiration and outstanding role model for all who strive to improve the quality of life for patients with orthopaedic problems," said colleague and personal friend David A. Spiegel, MD.

"I could not have done this without the resources and help of those around me," added Dr. Wilkins. "The Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital and the staff there have enabled me to help others. I cannot thank them enough for the opportunities they have given me. My family has also been more than supportive of my work. My wife Sidney and our three sons have taken it upon themselves to visit underprivileged countries to help and assist where they can."

After receiving a monetary donation from a San Antonio philanthropist in 1997, Dr. Wilkins and the Director of Physical Therapy at Santa Rosa Hospital, Jose Santos, developed "Projecto Muzquiz" at a Pediatric Rehabilitation Centre in Muzquiz, Mexico, 200 miles south of San Antonio. This is an ongoing effort that provides orthopaedic and rehabilitation assistance free of charge to children from Mexico with special needs. Hundreds of children have benefited from treatment since the program was established.

Most recently, the ongoing war in Iraq has created a need for continuing medical education in orthopaedics. The physicians in Iraq have had difficulties maintaining their orthopaedic training programs and treating patients. Using their own finances, he and another pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr. James Roach, embarked on a project to bring continuing education in pediatric orthopaedics to members of the Iraq Orthopaedic Association at a hospital in Basra, Iraq. While there, they saw over a hundred patients and taught orthopaedic procedures and treatments to the residents and attending staff of the Basra General Hospital.

For the past 13 years, his major effort has been to bring continuing education in pediatric orthopaedics to the Haitian orthopaedic community. In this period of time, he has made over 25 trips to assist in the development of various pediatric orthopaedic treatment centers. His most recent accomplishment has been the establishment of the Haiti Clubfoot Project with other members of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA). This program is training non-physician technicians to perform the basic correction of clubfeet using the Ponseti Technique.

In many areas of the world the local orthopaedic surgeons have difficulty obtaining postgraduate education. Several countries have insufficient financial resources for the local orthopaedic surgeons to travel to other countries or bring speakers with expertise to their countries to further their postgraduate education. Through the POSNA, Dr. Wilkins has organized a Outreach Continuing Education Program in Pediatric Orthopaedics. The POSNA faculty members volunteer to participate in the courses and pay their own travel expenses to the host countries. Since its inception, this program has conducted thirty post graduate outreach courses on pediatric orthopaedics in twenty separate countries. This program has brought continuing education to areas where it otherwise would not be available.

Dr. Wilkins, as the result of his desire to teach in countries with limited resources, has traveled the world and touched the lives of patients, surgeons, nurses and other health professionals in Mexico, India, Ecuador, Paraguay, Vietnam, Poland, Iraq, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Slovakia, just to name a few.

Dr. Wilkins added, "Over the course of my career, I have learned that helping people does not happen overnight. For you to truly have an effect on people, it has to be done in the long term. You have to meet them, find out their needs and figure out where the gap or gaps lie. The next part is simple; teach them what you know."

Previous AAOS Humanitarian Award Winners

About AAOS

To view this release online, go to: http://www.pwrnewmedia.com/2008/aaos030508_humanitarian/index.html

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