Young Indian Plastic Surgeon Provides Hope and Charity to Woman with Rare Facial Disease
Jun 01, 2009
Contact: Melissa Ratcliff
Young Indian Plastic Surgeon
Provides Hope and Charity to Woman with Rare Facial Disease
Dr. Munish Batra Gives Young Woman a New Face and a New Outlook
Three-year Journey of Charitable Care Chronicled in 2-part series in the Los Angles Times
La Jolla, Calif. – An estimated 100,000 Americans suffer from neurofibromatosis, often mistaken for “Elephant Man’s Disease.” Many of them live a life of isolation, afraid of showing their deformities to the outside world. But thanks to the generosity of plastic surgeon Munish Batra of San Diego, who led a team of gifted and philanthropic surgeons, a young woman has a new look, and a new outlook on life.
Batra lives in the San Diego area and leads a thriving plastic surgery practice in addition to his charitable work as founder of DOCS. Dr, Batra spends a great deal of his time dedicated to helping others. Part of a close-knit Indian family, Munish Batra and his sister Lori Varaich, who runs the DOCS foundation, share a passion for helping others.
The case of Ana Rodarte represents one of Dr. Batra’s most challenging cases. As a young girl, benign tumors began to grow and cover one side of Ana’s face. Ana suffers from NF1, the most common form of neurofibromatosis. It occurs in one in 3,000 people in the United States. Rarely are the cases as severe as Ana’s.
By age 25, her advanced stage of neurofibromatosis had severely deformed the left side of her face, leaving Ana homebound and unable to see from her left eye. It was then that she sought care from DOCS (Doctors Offering Charitable Services). Its founders, Dr. Munish Batra and Dr. Michael Halls, brought the case to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. For the past three years, DOCS talented team of surgeons led by Dr. Batra and Scripps Memorial Hospital have handled Ana’s case free of charge, providing more than $500,000 in medical care and services.
“Tragically, this disease can be more than a medical condition, but Ana refused to let a disease rob her of her dignity and worth as a person,” says Dr. Batra, the lead surgeon on Ana’s case. “The DOCS surgeons and Scripps provided services and care free of charge, but this is without a doubt the most rewarding work we have ever done.”
Since 2005, Ana hass undergone four surgeries at Scripps La Jolla to successfully transform the left side of her face. Los Angles Times staff writer Tomas Curwen and Times staff photographer Al Schaben chronicled Ana’s journey. The detailed multimedia profile about her experience is available at: www.latimes.com/ana.com.
The complexity of Ana’s case deterred other surgical teams from taking on this case, but this did not deter the DOCS physicians. Her all-volunteer medical eam includes:
* Munish Batra, M.D. - Plastic Surgeon
* Michael Halls, M.D. - Plastic Surgeon
* Alfonso Camberos, M.D. – Plastic Surgeon
* Andrew Chang, M.D., D.D.S. - Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
* Lokesh Tantuwaya, M.D. - Neurosurgeon
* Don Kikkawa, M.D. - Ophthalmologist (Oculoplastic Surgeon)
* James Tasto, M.D. - Dentist
For more detailed information on the DOCS surgeons, please visit our website at www.docscharity.com.
“Scripps Hospital and the DOCS surgical team have donated more than $500,000 toward Ana’s care,” noted Lori Varaich, Executive Director of Doctors Offering Charitable Services. “Without insurance coverage of any kind, Ana was unable to pay for the complex medical care required to remove the tumors and restore her quality of life, but this did not deter Scripps and DOCS from treating her.”
During the first surgery, a number of the larger tumors were removed. The second surgery involved removing many of Ana’s teeth which were decaying under an extra layer of gum tissue and re-structuring her nose. During the third surgery, surgeons drilled into Ana’s skull and performed a bone graft to support her left eye once hidden by tumors. And the fourth surgery was to put tissue expanders under her skin to stretch out her tumor-free skin for a more uniform appearance.
Ana’s treatment continues today as there is no cure for her condition, and the tumors will continue to grow. Surgery can remove the vast majority of them, while keeping the disease in check. However, her progress has been nothing short of miraculous. Ana has a new outlook on life, has enrolled in cosmetology school and is looking to help others dealing with neurofibromatosis.
“The world is filled with kindness and generosity,” says Ana. “And I am thankful for it.”
In addition to Ana’s case, DOCS surgeons provide complex medical treatment to a variety of individuals who are unable to shoulder the financial burden that their medical condition requires. DOCS surgeons have successfully worked to help a United States Marine with severe spinal and craniofacial trauma from a horrific accident at a Southern California military base. His secondary reconstruction included reconstructing his nose and left eyebrow. These are just two patients among the many that DOCS surgeons are helping to get back into society.
Dr. Munish K. Batra and Dr. Michael Halls founded Doctors Offering Charitable Services (DOCS) in 2002. While San Diego is home to a number of non-profit medical organizations, it had yet to see the establishment of a non-profit dedicated solely to the arena of reconstructive surgery for the citizens of Southern California. While the doctors involved do spend time traveling abroad to perform surgeries in third world countries, the main focus of the DOCS organization is attending to the incredible need that exists here within our own community. More information about DOCS can be found at www.docscharity.com.
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