Many areas around the world today rely on doctors coming from outside and helping the local population. Iranian-American plastic surgeon Kaveh Alizadeh is one of the doctors that has chosen to dedicate much of his time to volunteering in different areas in need, working throughout Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
From the beginning, it all started in Med-school; “I did public health work and in the process I got interested in Doctors Beyond Borders so I started volunteering for a group based out of New York.”
Dr. Alizadeh believes that people in developing countries appreciate medical care more due to its limited access in those places. “In the western world we take medicine (and medical care) for granted because we have access to it at all times” he says.
When deciding what area to go to next he looks at the country to see if any region has more access to medical care than others. When travelling to Iran for example, he never goes to Teheran where the hospitals are good, but rather to villages where the healthcare is lacking. When leaving a region, Alizadeh often keeps in touch with the local surgeons in order to follow up on the treatment of his patients.
Dr. Alizadeh is also involved with charity organizations that bring people here to the U.S. when performing a particular type of surgery on them would be impossible in their own country, such as three year old Alketta from Kosovo. “She was brought here through the Global Relief Fund and we performed a complicated burn operation on her,” he said.
“Coming from Iran I feel like I have an emotional connection to the country.” The first time he went back since leaving Iran in 1979 was in 1993 when he went to an Afghani refugee camp in the Khorasam province in the north-east of Iran. “After this experience I decided to go into plastic surgery and got involved in other aspects of small surgical relief missions.”
Dr. Alizadeh’s next trip will take place this summer when he is going to Palestine, a region where few outside physicians normally go. When not doing volunteer around the world he works at the Long Island Plastical Surgery Group (LIPSG).
Dr. Alizadeh believes that his medical trips bring down barriers and create cross-cultural experiences; “For me it is gratifying to work with the local plastic surgeons because then they can teach me things I didn’t know before and I can teach them things. This is something which creates dialogue.”