Dr. Asif Ilyas, a Hand Surgeon and Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon at the Rothman Institute, sees thousands of patients a year, but for one week a year, all of his patients differ from those who see him regularly at our Bryn Mawr, Bensalem and King of Prussia offices. These special patients are in places like Haiti, India, and just last month, Pakistan.
Once a year Dr. Ilyas travels the globe to share his expertise in hand and orthopaedic trauma surgery with those who need it most. For a couple years it was in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Living and working in tents similar to the ones in the show M*A*S*H, Dr. Ilyas pieced people back together who had suffered severe orthopaedic injuries from the earthquake. In his trips to India and most recently Pakistan, Dr. Ilyas focused on reconstructive procedures for various orthopaedic problems. It may seem counterintuitive to forego better operating rooms and less dire patient scenarios, but there is a method to his approach. Dr. Ilyas believes that it is not only the patients that can be helped with his visits, but also the local doctors and nurses in the room assisting him who he hopes might also get the most out of his visits.
“Beyond the patients treated, the biggest benefactors of the trips I make are the overseas physicians and students who I work with,” said Ilyas. “Rothman Institute has a deep commitment to education, not just in Philadelphia and South Jersey, but anywhere our physicians travel. The group I worked with in Pakistan can take the lessons learned and next time, treat their patients with those new skills immediately.”
All of Dr. Ilyas’s work on these week long trips is done free of charge. It is his way of paying it forward and giving hope to those who may not have a lot of it.
“I do it to give back and to remind myself what we have here,” he said. “I consider myself very lucky to have been given the extraordinary opportunity and advanced skillset as a hand surgeon and orthopaedic trauma surgeon, as well as the resources to be able to travel abroad. What motivates me is the disproportionate resource inequality in care in different parts of the world. Traveling abroad to provide medical services allows me to perhaps put a dent in that inequality while also reminding me of the phenomenal resources and access to the highest quality of care we have here at home. It never ceases to amaze me the severity of injuries and disabilities people suffer from around the world with often no access to a doctor, let alone one like me with a high-level of sub-specialty expertise. Yet, these trips remind me of the common humanity we all share irrespective of language, culture, or religion which is invigorating”
Click here to read the 2nd part of Dr. Ilyas's trip to Pakistan.
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