Dr. Shankar Man Rai, a world-renowned expert at repairing clefts and burn injuries, has provided more than 12,000 free surgeries for impoverished children. He has also helped thousands of children in rural Nepal heal their speech impediments through the speech therapy camps he founded.
In 1999, Shankar established the first ReSurge Surgical Outreach Program. With the success of his outreach pilot program, he began meeting with ReSurge partners from other developing countries, sharing his experience and model. Now, more than 90 percent of all ReSurge surgeries are performed by developing world surgeons like Shankar. He also created the first medical residency program in Nepal’s history in the specialty of plastic reconstructive surgery, resulting in a new generation of surgeons to treat the poor of his country.
Shankar was born in rural Nepal, about 100 miles from the nearest major road, to a poor farming family. He was the first in his family to reach his level of education. Soon after his general surgery training, he observed ReSurge volunteer doctors performing a cleft lip surgery in Kathmandu and decided that he wanted to do the same. After three years of plastic surgery training in the United States, he returned to Nepal to dedicate his knowledge and skill to helping others.
In 2004, the American Medical Association honored Shankar with its Nathan R. Davis Award in International Medicine and Public Health for his devotion and skill; he was the first doctor from a developing country to receive this prize. In 2005, he received a World of Children award for his remarkable service. In April 2009, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, honored Dr. Rai with his Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award.