Transforming the practice of reconstructive surgery in Sub-Saharan Africa is no small feat. For every 10 million individuals, there is only one reconstructive surgeon in this region, a staggering statistic impacting the lives of many.
To this end, the ReSurge International Program in Africa (RIPA) has partnered with the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA) to support trainees in reconstructive surgery.
Most recently, COSECSA has awarded three trainees from Uganda, Dr. Peter Majeme, Dr. Simon Kazibwe, and Dr. David Silver a scholarship for a one-month exchange rotation in Ethiopia.
ReSurge Medical Student Volunteer, Vaibhavi Shah had a chat with Dr. Silver to hear more about what led him to reconstructive surgery, and how this exchange program gets him one step closer to bridging the gap between surgeons and patients.
Meet Dr. David Silver, Inspired to Provide Better Trauma Care
Born and raised in Uganda, Dr. Silver became deeply acquainted with the trials of obtaining urgent trauma care during his childhood.
When a car ran into his sister and she suffered a devastating foot fracture, Dr. Silver personally faced the barriers to receiving effective medical attention, from finding an attending to care for his sister to refilling medications in a timely manner.
Yet, instead of being deterred by the field, Dr. Silver took this situation as a challenge to become a doctor and provide the care that he had seen his sister and others deprived of. As Dr. Silver navigated his journey through medicine, he realized that there was more to trauma care than the end goal of simply patching up an injury.
When he saw his sister was ashamed of her scarred foot, unwilling to walk around barefoot, he realized that the “how” of fixing an injury matters just as much—it can impact one’s quality of life, confidence, and esteem.
Dr. Silver realized as he saw more patients in the clinic with aggressive amputations and gruesome, poorly healed injuries, that carefully planned reconstructive surgery could be the way to improve the “how” and even sometimes save a limb.
From Uganda to Ethiopia: Building Skills Through the ReSurge and COSECSA Scholarship
Not having a plastic and reconstructive surgery department at his home institution made this exchange program even more crucial for Dr. Silver. The COSECSA partnership allowed him to dive deeper into the field and offer a light for those back home in Uganda. The ReSurge team checked in with Dr. Silver halfway through his rotation:
“This rotation is a real eye-opener. I have seen the magnitude of plastic surgery and the ability it has to impact whole communities,” says Dr. Silver.
He notes that while one month is nowhere near enough to acknowledge the full scope of reconstructive surgery, he is incredibly grateful for the skills he learns each day in the hospital.
Dr. Silver hopes that he can facilitate this transfer of knowledge to his peers, as well as the trainees following in his footsteps in Uganda.
Through ReSurge’s partnership with COSECSA, we can continue supporting many more trainees such as Dr. Silver who can bring reconstructive surgery to more individuals throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Written by Vaibhavi Shah, ReSurge Medical Student Volunteer