Volunteering: One Surgeon’s Dedication and Enthusiasm
Grateful for all the support he has received throughout his education and training, Asif M. Ilyas, M.D., FACS, an orthopedic surgeon and program director of the Hand Surgery Fellowship at the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, believes strongly in paying it forward. That’s why he spent a week this fall volunteering his expertise in hand and orthopedic trauma surgery at a teaching hospital and medical university in Pakistan.
He told OTW, “I feel that here in America we are privileged to have the highest quality of care at almost every level of society, but unfortunately that ready access to care is not universal throughout the world. As such, I want to do my little part to help in that.”
Ilyas has also made several trips overseas to Haiti and India. He spends a week or two each year bringing hope and healing to those who need it the most. His work typically involves acute fracture work and chronic trauma reconstruction cases including malunions and nonunions.
“The other area I concentrate on is upper extremity reconstructive cases involving tendon transfers and reconstructions for chronic nerve injuries such as the brachial plexus,” he added.
“There is an astounding amount of need overseas for orthopaedic care. Moreover, there is a huge disparity within the population of less developed countries to access to general orthopaedic care. The majority of orthopaedic care needs revolve around acute and chronic fracture care. Other common problems encountered are limited resource to manage chronic traumatic nerve injuries and wounds,” he said.
This work also reminds Ilyas of why he went into medicine in the first place. He said, “In our daily lives of busy office schedules, busy OR responsibilities and family commitments, we can often forget why we do what we do and how amazing it is to be able to positively affect people’s lives in such enormous ways.”
For Ilyas, working with the local staff while on these trips is also an important part of his mission. He explained that because medical and surgical training is not as formalized in other parts of the world as it is in the United States, the staff is always hungry to learn so he makes sure to spend time with them lecturing on topics of their interest or need.