I have always believed in giving back to the community. I began volunteering during high school, where I traveled to the Dominican Republic to help build schools in the countryside. In college, I worked with a local Boston agency to help provide shelter and warm blankets to the homeless during the cold winter months.
It was during medical school at the University of Miami that I first began to provide medical care to those in need. With the help of other medical students, we staffed a medical clinic in the city of Homestead to help local migrant workers. We supplied medicine and primary care services. My volunteer activities were put on hold during residency and fellowship, due to the extraneous working hours that were required.
At the beginning of my practice, I joined the World Medical Mission and traveled once a year on a two-week trip to Kenya. We provided surgical care to children and young adults with cleft lip and palate. This was an amazing experience where we were able to help many patients with facial deformities. Due to political problems in Kenya, I decided that it was no longer a safe environment. For the past three years, I have been traveling to Guatemala with a group of local Miami physicians to provide care there. We set up camp in a small town named Zumpango, about an hour away from the capital. There, I operate children and adults with facial deformities.
In addition to the work in Guatemala, I also travel to Vietnam with the Face-to-Face program. I enjoy travelling there because, apart from operating patients, I also have the opportunity to teach young surgeons. I believe that this is important because it is an investment in their future, which will allow them to become self-sufficient.
As a member of the Face-to-Face program, I also provide complimentary care to women who have been victims of domestic violence. These are women who have been abused by their partners. The care I usually provide involves treatment of nasal fractures or revision of facial scars.
Three years ago I joined the Faces of Honor, a branch of the Face to Face program. It focuses on the treatment of U.S. Armed Forces veterans who have traumatic facial deformities sustained in combat. I have treated solders with severe nasal traumas and facial scars.
Every year in June, I participate in the Baptist Hospital ” Day of Smiles. ” This is a day where Baptist Hospital donates the operating rooms and along with a team of anesthesiologist and other surgeons, we provide surgical care to children with facial deformities. I enjoy this event because it allows me to treat local children who would otherwise not be able to afford treatment.
I believe that in this community we call the world, everyone should help those that are less fortunate. While not everyone can provide charitable medical care, there are certainly many ways in which people can help and give back. I invite you to reach out and give back.
Andres Bustillo, MD FACS