November 26, 2012
One Charlottesville doctor is changing lives thousands of miles away. In this week's Stephanie's Heroes CBS19's Stephanie Satchell is featuring UVa plastic surgeon Dr. Tom Gampper. Over the past 20 years he's treated cleft lip and palates on hundreds of children and adults in India, the Dominican Republic and Ghana.
Dr. Tom Gampper can usually be found zipping through the hallways at UVa's West Complex treating and checking on patients.
When he's not at the hospital he's travelling the globe on a mission to help children and adults repairing cleft lip and palates.
"It's really a special feeling. That's why I became a plastic surgeon. I saw one and realized that in one hour you can change somebody's life around," said Dr. Tom Gampper, UVa Medical Center.
Dr. Gampper and a whole medical team just came back from a trip to India. They worked with about 150 patients at a free surgery clinic.
The medical team performed several operative procedures that some people might take for granted in the United States.
"It makes us realize how fortunate we are here in the U.S. that everybody has access to good care be it at UVa or elsewhere,” said Dr. Gampper.
Although, repairing the cleft lip is cosmetic procedure, Dr. Gampper says the palate or roof of the mouth is a necessity.
"The palate is functional you need it for speech and for eating well. So that is critical," said Dr. Gampper.
Although, it takes a few weeks to completely heal, when most patients see themselves for the first time after surgery they can't believe the change.
"They smile right away," said Gampper.
Many people call Dr. Gampper a hero for giving patients that opportunity.
Many patients no longer want to hide their face and they are finally proud of their appearance.
Dr. Gampper is already gearing up for his next trip to India. He's scheduled to leave in March of 2013 and set stay for nearly two weeks.