Monthly Archives: July 2016

Landmark Program: Misha’s Story

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Babies are into everything. Here in the U.S., we have every baby-proofing tool at our fingertips. We can plug every outlet, soften every corner, gate off every stair, and lock every cabinet, and even then, in a split second, our endlessly curious children still manage to find themselves in harm’s way.


Silvia and Misha

Imagine living as a single mother to three children in the poorest country in the European Union. “Government housing” is a generous term for a shack with a dirt floor. Your kitchen is an open flame. You have only the clothes on your back and the shoes on your feet.

This is the reality for Silvia.

Time stood still on the morning her youngest son—at 10 months old—accidentally poured hot oatmeal over himself and sustained devastating burns and hair loss to the left side of his head and face. Over time, she realized the extent of the scarring as well as the insurmountable cost of corrective surgery.

Misha’s story was brought to us through the nonprofit Solo Visions Charities, Inc., which raised funding for their airfare from Moldova to the U.S. so that now three-year-old Misha could be treated through our Landmark Program, which offers hope to children who have no options for care in their home countries.

In partnership with Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, LEAP provides children with the most complex surgical needs living in underserved areas of the world with the ability travel to the U.S. to receive high quality medical and surgical care—at no cost to their families.


The Doroshchuks | Host Family

In April, Silvia placed her two daughters in the care of church friends and took a leap of faith by stepping onto an airplane (for the first time) bound for Dallas. Upon arrival, the Doroshchuk family greeted her with a warm welcome in familiar Russian.

At his first pre-op appointment, we all immediately fell in love with Misha. Simply through the light in his eyes and the curl of his smile, he conveyed his sweet disposition and curious spirit. Without a full understanding of what was happening, it was evident that Misha was still able to comprehend that he was in the hands of strangers who cared deeply for his well-being.

In the early days, Silvia was amazed at the running water that came out of the bathtub. She marveled at electricity and the use of a refrigerator. Even Misha was thrilled to play with his new toys, despite his extensive surgeries and recovery.

LEAP Founder Dr. Craig Hobar—along with Dr. John Burns, his plastic surgeon colleague—thoughtfully developed a surgical plan for Misha. The first surgery included placement of tissue expanders to stretch his skin; the second surgery involved replacing the scar tissue. Throughout both surgeries, Dr. Burns conducted laser therapy treatment to help further reduce the scarring.

Over the course of three months, Misha remained under the care of Dr. Hobar and Dr. Burns as well as two Russian-speaking host families that provided them with endless compassion in a comforting home environment.


Dr. Craig Hobar

Misha did very well; his scarring was reduced by 80 percent, and his hairline and ear both returned to normal.

Last week, Silvia stepped back on an airplane to return home with Misha—both with a new outlook on life and uplifted spirits.

“We’re going to give Misha a chance to live a normal life,” said Dr. Hobar. “This injury won’t affect his ability to play with other kids, to go to school, or to integrate into society.”

To learn more about our Landmark Program, click here.

To watch the WFAA news story about Misha, click here.

Landmark Update: Farewell to Misha

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Photo: WFAA

Today is bittersweet as Misha returns home to Moldova. His sweet spirit was captured so well in this WFAA-TV news story! We are grateful to Medical City Children’s Hospital for their invaluable partnership benefiting our Landmark recipients, Dr. John Burns who worked alongside Dr. Hobar in the OR, and the host families who took Misha and his mother in. Most of all, we are fortunate to have such a loving LEAP community that wraps their arms around special children like Misha.

Watch WFAA Story

International Disaster Relief: Meet Dr. Giancarlo McEvenue

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Giancarlo McEvenueDr. Giancarlo McEvenue is a Canadian plastic surgeon in his final year of residency training at the University of Toronto. In January, Dr. McEvenue was part of the surgical team that performed Canada’s first hand transplant. Medical missions and relief work have always been a life goal of his, and he plans on making it a big part of his future career. Dr. McEvenue will join the ISAPS-LEAP Surgical Relief Teams© mission to Lebanon this week. This will be his first mission with LEAP!

International Disaster Relief: Meet Dr. Kevin Healy

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Dr. Kevin Healy with two anesthesia residents in Lima, Peru in December 2015

Dr. Kevin Healy with two anesthesia residents in Lima, Peru in December 2015

Dr. Kevin Healy is an anesthesiologist living in Gainesville, FL. Retired from remunerative practice, he is active in international service, having served at seven hospitals in Trinidad, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Peru, Palestine, and Zimbabwe in the first half of 2016. Dr. Healy will join the ISAPS-LEAP Surgical Relief Teams© mission to Lebanon at the end of the month. Since first participating in the Haiti 2010 disaster relief missions, this will be Dr. Healy’s sixth mission with LEAP.




International Disaster Relief: Meet Dr. Adam Hamawy

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13592778_10154161312272254_6320019660486254566_nDr. Adam Hamawy is a fellowship trained plastic and reconstructive surgeon and owner of Princeton Plastic Surgeons. In addition to being an accomplished surgeon, Dr. Hamawy is an avid photographer. His ability to artistically capture the natural beauty in a landscape or that of a single flower has aided him in doing the very same for each and every one of his patients. At the end of the month, Dr. Hamawy will lead a team of plastic surgeons to serve on a week-long mission to al-Hamshari Hospital in Saida, Lebanon. This will be Dr. Hamawy’s fourth disaster relief surgical mission; he also traveled with our 2008 Belize mission team.

Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month: Ongoing Belize Mission Outreach

By | Belize, Blog, Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month, Mission Program, Upcoming Trips, Volunteers | No Comments
Belize.05.2012_Golden_Easterling_ThiessenOn average, about 1 in every 500-750 births worldwide results in a cleft. LEAP currently has a volunteer surgical mission team in Belize — a geographic region that has no plastic surgeons of its own — performing cleft lip and palate repairs, as we have done since 1995. Children like Cornelius (pictured here) would likely not receive surgical repair without the generosity of spirit found in the medical volunteers who travel on missions with LEAP.

Landmark Update: Misha

By | Blog, Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month, Landmark Program, News | No Comments

IMG_6938Every week for the past several weeks, Misha has seen Dr. Craig Hobar in the office to receive saline injections in his tissue expanders, which allows the affected tissue to stretch in preparation for his next surgery. This can create an unusual appearance and sensation, but Misha has tolerated his injections each week with a joyful spirit.

Misha’s next surgery by Dr. Hobar and Dr. John Burns is scheduled next Tuesday, July 12 at Medical City Children’s Hospital. He will have one overnight stay at the hospital. We ask for your prayers as we prepare for Misha’s second surgery. If you would like to join Silvia and our wonderful host family in the pediatric surgery waiting room or otherwise help, please contact Ashley Winder at or (972) 566-6550.

Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month: Danny’s Story

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10377531_10152318261373053_2325245596250205011_nSome cleft lip and palate repairs require multiple complex craniofacial surgeries as a child grows. In some of these more complex cases requiring a pediatric neurosurgeon or other more specialized medical provider, our Landmark Program works to bring children from their home countries to receive specialized medical care at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas over the course of several weeks or months.

Danny - Cohen_5X7_0071lab_FBYou might remember the story of Landmark recipient Danny, who was orphaned as a baby due to his appearance, and over the course of his lengthy medical care, we helped facilitate his adoption. We are so thankful to our special donor, surgeons, other medical providers, host families, and other volunteers who make this program possible!

If you would like to support the Landmark Program, please contact Ashley Winder at or (972) 566-6550.

Read Danny's Story

Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month: Compassionate Medical Volunteers

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A cleft lip and palate medical team is generally comprised of a craniofacial plastic surgeon, an orthodontist, and a speech therapist, depending upon the child’s specific needs. Many patients with clefts require multiple surgeries and care by these and other specialists over several years. LEAP’s medical volunteers are an outstanding group of approximately 250 medical professionals who provide the same quality of care in the developing countries LEAP serves, often seeing our patients year after year for the same specialized care they would receive in the US. 

Haiti Nov 2015 - team

Pictured: LEAP Haiti Team, November 2015

Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month: Mission Outreach

By | Blog, Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month, Mission Program, Volunteers, Zimbabwe | No Comments

10454250_10152479744727254_5082661892217999022_oCleft lip and palate are among the most treatable birth defects in this country. In impoverished countries, many children grow up with unrepaired clefts due to lack of access to specialized surgical care. This often leads to social isolation as well as speech, feeding, and hearing problems.

When LEAP was in Zimbabwe in 2014, we learned of Ronald and newborn sister Thanxgod (pictured right with volunteer Linda Hardison), two of five children belonging to a mother who had to permanently leave her village and travel hundreds of miles to get surgical care for her two children with clefts. We were all inspired by her sacrifices and commitment to seeking care for her children for what is considered a standard surgical repair in the US.