Letter from Kenya: Mission Plasticos Extends its Reach to Africa

by Mission Plasticos

With our recent trip to Kenya earlier this month, Mission Plasticos has reached an amazing milestone: Our first mission to Africa. It was also one of our most successful trips to date!

The mission was organized in conjunction with COSECSA (College of Surgeons of East Central and South Africa), the largest surgical training program in Sub-Saharan Africa, where residents rotate through participating hospitals in 14 countries across East, Central, and South Africa. Further collaboration was with the University of Nairobi, which trains the largest number of plastic surgeons in Kenya. 

“The need for reconstructive surgery training in Africa by Mission Plasticos is beyond anything I have encountered in my more than 25 years of volunteering mostly in remote areas. A new continent and an auspicious place for the ‘Mission Plasticos Effect.’”

— Dr. Larry NichterMission Plasticos Founder and Medical Director

It has been a long-time goal of Mission Plasticos founder Dr. Larry Nichter to help the people of Africa. A recent situational analysis of the COSECSA region found that there is far less than one plastic surgeon per million population.

In addition to the workforce shortage, the region has a significant misdistribution issue: 71% of surgeons practice in urban areas with populations greater than 500,000, and women are underrepresented, comprising only 7 percent of the surgical workforce.

This is why Mission Plasticos is needed.


An international team of seven volunteers traveled nearly 10,000 miles to Nakuru Level 5 Hospital in Nakuru, Kenya to treat underserved patients in need of surgery for burn contractions, skin grafts, hand deformities, and trauma.

The most heartbreaking case from the trip involved a young boy with severe burn contracture scars across his head and neck from an untreated fire injury when he was two. The scarring limited his neck movements and pulled his lips and eyelid so that they could not close, exposing his cornea which, if left untreated, would lead to blindness. The team was able to complete a series of skin grafting procedures that restored his neck mobility, addressed his lips, and corrected his eyelid.

All told, the Mission Plasticos volunteer team of Dr. Jean Sprengel, Dr. Steve Westerhout, Dr. Larry Nichter, Dr. James Watson, and Dr. Francisco Aguiar along with Mia Kilekas, PA and Mindy Rhodes, RN, screened 61 patients and completed 56 procedure on 27 patients. Our team collaborated with Dr. Peter Odour, Chief of Plastic Surgery and COSECSA Training site program director in Nakuru, and Dr. Natalie, a CONSECA plastic surgery resident in Uganda doing rotation in Nakuru, to accomplish this huge task.


In addition to the life-changing and life-saving care provides, Mission Plasticos puts equal emphasis on training local doctors to ensure continued quality care beyond the mission. Eleven surgery residents and anesthetists from Kenya were trained in fundamental and advanced surgical techniques and procedures.

This included a collaboration with the University of Nairobi Department of Plastic Surgery in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, with 8 plastic surgery residents traveling 160 km to Nakuru to participate in education and training. Thirty three more plastic surgeon residents from the university joined remotely via live streams of our lectures and surgeries, as well as other surgeons across Africa and beyond, including Nairobi, Uganda, Lebanon, and London.


Most of the plastic surgery residents in the training program are unpaid and come from poor families. They cannot afford expensive surgical equipment that other surgeons rely on. Our mission included the donation of much needed supplies including: Surgical operating loupes, Sequential Compression Devices (SCDs), Power Dermatone for creating better skin grafts, a surgical tourniquet machine, electrocautery handpieces, anesthesia supplies, surgical supplies, a complete microsurgical set critical for hand surgery and nerve repair donated by Scanlan Corporation, and ONETRAC lighted retractors donated by Cooper Surgical.

With the tools and the training they’ve received, the local doctors are empowered to continue providing the best care possible, transforming their community through self-sufficiency.

The trip was capped off by a meeting and appreciation dinner with the Nakuru County Department of Health Services and Level 5 Hospital Administrations before our international team of volunteers returned to their homes, exhausted from their long journey. They shared a great sense of accomplishment in having helped these patients in need, but know the need is still great, and the work has just begun.

We look forward to returning to Africa soon and continuing to help patients and doctors alike through our Treat, Train, Transform approach. In the meantime, Mission Plasticos would like to thank Cooper Surgical, Scanlan Corporation, CONSECA, Nakuru Hospital, the University of Nairobi, and our amazing volunteers for making this first mission to Africa such a success.

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