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Training the Next Generation of Surgeons in Cuba

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At the beginning of his career, Dr. Bill McClure was on track to become a cardiovascular surgeon–that is, until he discovered plastic surgery. While in medical school, a trip to Mexicali, Mexico with his plastic surgery professors prompted him to change his career plans.

He sought out Dr. Don Laub, ReSurge International founder, whose reconstructive plastic surgery training program at Stanford was known for international humanitarian work. According to Bill “I did everything I could to get accepted to that program at Stanford”.

Dr. McClure describes the transformative power of his first ReSurge trip to Honduras with Dr. Laub, watching Don perform a cleft lip repair, “In only 45 minutes he completely changed a child’s life. I was hooked.”

He continues, “After that experience, I decided I would devote my life to a practice that allowed me to volunteer domestically and abroad.”

Since that time, Bill has served on over seventy volunteer medical trips to sixteen different countries, including one for which he and his wife Christina (an ER nurse) cut short their wedding reception!

In the early 2000’s Bill made several trips to Cuba, where he operated on children who needed surgery to address neglected burns and congenital conditions such as cleft lip and palate. Inspired by these visits, Dr. McClure returned to Cuba in February 2016 on a site visit for ReSurge.

Dr. McClure was subsequently one of the driving forces behind the November 2016 Reconstructive Surgery Symposium, jointly sponsored by ReSurge and the Cuban Ministry of Health. Held in Havana’s Hospital Calixto Garcia, the Symposium connected ReSurge International with Cuba’s healthcare workers for a medical and technical exchange. In addition to co-organizing the symposium Dr. McClure partnered with Dr. Guillermo Sanchez and Dr. Jim Chang, ReSurge’s consulting medical officer, to present lectures on advanced reconstructive surgery.

The Symposium had approximately 300 attendees and was a resounding success. ReSurge is now developing a five-year framework for teaching advanced surgical care techniques (specifically microsurgery)as part of the medical and technical exchange with Cuba’s medical professionals. ReSurge expects there will be three to four exchange trips to Cuba in the next year, thanks in large part to Bill McClure and his dedication to transforming lives.

About Dr. William McClure: Dr. McClure has practiced in the Napa Valley since 1984. A graduate of the University of California at San Diego, he completed his training at the Stanford University Medical Center. He has been nationally recognized as an expert in plastic surgery by his peers as a lifetime member of Best Doctors in America. In October of 2005, Dr. Bill McClure was recognized by the Dalai Lama as an “Unsung Hero of Compassion” at a special ceremony in San Francisco.

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