Dr. Niamtu, his partners and his staff have an almost 30-year history of providing free surgical care to those in need. Since entering private practice, Dr. Niamtu has provided free surgical reconstruction to children from third world countries and from the United States. In addition he has orchestrated a continuum of care for these children with local hospitals and physicians. Dr. Niamtu and his wife, April, have been chairpersons for Noah’s Children, Operation Smile, Richmond ARC and are also active in the Safe Harbor Women’s Shelter, March of Dimes, Conner’s Heroes and other charities.
The following are some of the more interesting cases treated on a pro bono basis by Dr. Niamtu and his staff. It is extremely rewarding to assist those who may otherwise not afford treatment.
Dr. Niamtu on NBC News for Performing Free Surgery on Bullied Teen
Cosmetic Surgery for Protruding Ears and Bullying
Dr. Niamtu provides free surgery for domestic violence survivor of near fatal machete attack.
It was my honor to assist the beautiful and brave patient with her injuries. Every time she comes to our office she strengthens our resolve. I think Davette will dedicate much of her life to assist other survivors of domestic violence.
Dr. Niamtu’s Heroes
Over the years, my partners and I have assisted hundreds of charities and performed hundreds of pro bono surgeries. On October 4, 2013 we had our annual Ladies Night Out celebration and it was my pleasure to honor 5 of my heroes that I have assisted over the years. Each of these award recipients have faced significant adversity in their life and overcame the limitations to lead normal lives and inspire the Greater Richmond Community. Award winners included:
Paul Latimer – born with a facial growth abnormality.
Edward Sando – lost his nose and much of his face as a child during the Liberian Civil War.
Starr Jones – was shot in the face while holding her infant in a domestic violence attack.
Casey Perkins – sustained burns over 90% of his body in a Christmas tree fire.
Danny Teodorescu – a Romanian national working here to earn money who was robbed and shot.
As my staff and I were putting these awards together, Susan Dunham was high on the list. Susan was a visually impaired lady that wanted a facelift but could not afford it. I performed the surgery free of charge and this was covered my numerous national and international media outlets at the time. We attempted to reach Susan for several weeks and did not get a call back. I performed an Internet search and was extremely saddened to find out that Susan passed away at the age of 54 in February. She truly influenced my life in so many ways, we miss her dearly.
The following is CBS video coverage of the event.
A Mother’s Caring Wish for her Young Daughter
Here I pose with my buddy Casey Perkins. I read about Casey years ago when he was severely burned in a fire from a Christmas tree. I have had the honor to reconnect with Casey recently and we have been trying some of the new scar lasers on his burn scars and skin grafts. We are starting slow but have gained some progress and will continue treatment as long as Casey wants to. He is literally one of the favorite patients in our office and my staff is always excited to see him. He is one of the toughest people I have ever met and has a giant heart. To my surprise, Casey painted a portrait of me and I was really touched for several reasons. Number one, that he put his personal time in to this art and number two, he truly captured my “energy” in this picture. It proudly hangs in my office and each time I look at it I think of Casey. By the way Casey, you could have painted some hair on my head and made my arms bigger!
Casey, thanks for making my life better!
Star is a beautiful person inside and out and is a very brave and tough person and a great mother. Star is a victim of domestic abuse and is lucky to believe. She was holding her 1 year old infant when her husband shot her in the head with a 40 caliber handgun. Her will to survive and to be a mom is exemplary. She has lost vision in her left eye but is recovering very well. Dr. Niamtu is treating Star free of charge to improve the scars and facial damage.
The above picture shows Star after her shooting and a picture of our laser treatment. The laser will blend the scar and shrink the eyelid skin. We are also injecting silicone to fill the bullet hole.
We want to thank Star for the recent kind words she sent.
Al’Yana Barnes was a Jubilant, energetic young girl playing with friends at a birthday party when a deranged neighbor threw sulphuric acid on her and changed her life forever. She sustained third degree burns on her face and much of her body.
The wonderful doctors at Virginia Commonwealth University performed many surgeries and skin grafts on Al’Yana and she has been through a lot. After being released from VCU, she understandingly became very withdrawn and lost her joy for life. He mother sought out Dr. Niamtu to inquire about improvement of her scars and Dr. Niamtu is doing all surgery and anesthesia free of charge.
She has been through so much it is quite understandable. Dr. Niamtu asked her what was her favorite thing and she said she loved computers but did not have one. Dr. Niamtu and his partners surprised Al’Yana with a brand new computer and printer and this opened the door to communications.
Dr. Niamtu, his partners, Al’Yana’s Mom, Al’Yana and her brother smile with her new computer and printer
Although it is difficult to predict what degree of improvement can be achieved, Dr. Niamtu is using new laser technology with the Lumenis Deep FX laser which has been used successfully with sever burn scars. Dr. Niamtu began the treatment by performing smaller test areas to see how Alyana’s skin and scars would respond and the initial results have been promising. Dr. Craig Pinsker has donated his anesthesia services for the several surgical procedures to date.
Deborah is a courageous burn patient that is a living example of someone not letting life’s bad turns prevent them from progressing and succeeding. She is one of the strongest people I have ever met. Her story is below.
“Jan., 1961 I was 3 years old and had in my mind to fix breakfast for my parents at 4 a.m. I pushed the chair up to the stove and tried to reach the cabinet above the stove when the chair slipped out from under me, my knee turned the gas stove burner on and I fell into the flames. My nightgown caught fire and I received 3rd degree burns on my torso and neck/face. It was 1961 and the technology for burns/plastic surgery was no where near advanced as it is today. Infection was a serious concern so I had my hands tied to the bed as to not touch the burned areas. I was in MCV and then Crippled Children’s Hospital for well over 6 months. I have had more surgeries than I can even count for skin grafts taken from my legs and buttocks to allow the burned skin to grow as I grew into adulthood. The surgeons who followed me all those years have long since passed away but they were a Godsend to me. Now, 50 years later, I decided to see what was out there for burn victims such as myself. I believe in word of mouth and testimonials to find a physician who
I would feel comfortable enough to see and let him do surgery. I have had so many tell me Dr. Niamtu is the best so I wanted to see what was out there and what he suggested to be done to lessen the look of the scars and burns. I heard of laser but growing up I had only had dermabrasion done, therefore, I was excited but skeptical of the process. Dr. Niamtu was cautiously optimistic with the deep laser on burns and we discussed the options. I was very comfortable with Dr. Niamtu’s recommendation and experience. He had me in mind and wanted the best results possible. I have been delighted with the results and follow up. I have had people tell me how much smoother the burned area looks and really hard to even detect the burns. More than others telling me those things, when I look in the mirror I dont see that scared and scarred 3 year old, I see a 53 year old woman who chose to do something for herself and have not one regret for doing so. I have been given another Godsend -Dr. Niamtu.”
Above is our first cautious of treatment of Deborah which produced mild improvement and smoothing, follow up treatments are in the process.
Susan is a dynamic and loving 54 year old woman who, like all women, wants to look as young as she feels. She exercises, diets and tries her best to stay healthy. What sets Susan apart from most other patients is the fact that she is blind. Susan uses a seeing eye dog and is a great example of the fact that regardless of disabilities, people want to look and feel good.
We first met Susan when she presented to the office for a problem with her jaw. Before she lost her vision, she had had a chin implant which eroded her jaw. Dr. Niamtu reconstructed the defect. During a follow up visit, Susan brought up the fact that she would love to have a facelift to improve her looks and self esteem as well as her prospects of being competitive in the workplace. Since she is on a fixed disability income she realized that such a procedure would be impossible. Dr. Niamtu and his staff were touched by her wish and performed the surgery free of charge.
Dr. Niamtu on NBC discussing pro bono facelift on visually impaired patient (2005)
The following images chronicle Susan’s experience. Click on any image for a larger view.
Susan sent us this picture in Spring of 2011 showing off her new partner.
We were extremely sad to see Susan passed away at the age of 54 in Feb 2013. She influeinced our lives for the better and was truly one of my all time Dr. Niamtu’s Heroes.
Paul is an energy-charged, delightful 7 year old boy who was born with Pierre-Robin Syndrome. This syndrome causes stunted growth of the facial bones and other associated problems. Paul was unable to open his mouth more than one half inch. This made eating, speaking and other normal oral functions difficult or impossible. He was also unable to have preventive dentistry and was suffering with decayed teeth. The worst problem, however, was that Paul had severe sleep apnea and his oxygen levels dropped to dangerously low levels at night.
To reconstruct Paul’s facial bones, a large operation would be necessary. The damaged jaw joints (TMJ) would need to be removed and two ribs would need to be harvested from Paul’s chest to implant in place of the jaw joints. This is a very expensive surgery that requires many hospital resources such as the operating room, anesthesia, pediatric intensive care unit, radiology, etc.
Paul had no insurance coverage for the surgery and Dr. Niamtu and his partners decided to do the surgery pro bono. In addition, CJW hospitals donated many resources for the surgery. Dr. Greg Lockhart, a local cardiothoracic surgeon donated his time to harvest the ribs for Paul’s reconstruction. Andy Christen from Medical Modeling in Golden, Colorado also donated selected services in producing a 3-D model of Paul’s skull, to assist Dr. Niamtu and his partner Dr. Larry Metzger in planning the surgery.
During the surgery Dr. Niamtu and Dr. Metzger replaced the damaged jaw joints. The ribs are used to reconstruct the jaw joint because they contain cartilage which will continue to grow as the patient ages. Due to this, the jaw will grow at a normal rate with the rest of Paul’s body. The surgical procedure took 6 hours and Dr. Niamtu also placed a chin implant to improve Paul’s cosmetics and self esteem. He had been teased for years by his classmates due to his lack of chin and this part of the surgery was important to Paul.
The great docs at VCU oral and maxillofacial surgery have taken over the care and surgery on Paul when my practice transitioned to full time cosmetic surgery. They have placed bilateral total jaw joints and paul is functioning well. He is shown below at the Dr. Niamtu’s Heroes Award, opening his mouth quite well.
Dr. Niamtu on CBS discussing his pro bono surgery on Paul Latimer
Click on any image below for a larger view.
Dr. Niamtu and Kelly with Paul after surgery.
Drs. Niamtu and Metzger in action.
Many of us take our health for granted, the following is a touching story and it has been my pleasure to help and be a friend of Kahsay.
The above image shows some of the scar revision Dr. Niamtu performed on Kashay
I was born in Jan 20, 1980 in Assab, Eritrea. Both My parents are from Tigrigna Ethnic group and were born in Mendefera, Eritrea. I am third child in a family of twelve. I have two sisters and nine brothers. Currently, all my families are residing in Eritrea. I finished my High School in 1996 in Assab city, Eritrea. After I finished my high school I joined the Eritrean army in 1996 as part of my national services (mandatory) requirement. I served in the military since September, 1996 up to 2000. During this time the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out and as the result I was forced to participate in two wars which aroused at that time. During this war I was assigned time in assistance mechanized team and seriously wounded in my right face in 1999. After this incidence I was hospitalized and stayed in medical treatment for nine months. After that in January, 2000 I was demobilized from the army because my injury.
After I have been released from the army I was went to Massawa city in Eritrea and started to lead my life by working as fisher men. Even though I was happy to be discharged from the army and start civilian life I had a lot of pain and poor health from the injury in my right face.
During this time while I was working as fisher men I met Mr. and Mrs. Casmin who were visiting Massawa, Eritrea from New Jersey, USA. When I met them they were very passionate to hear about my stories and all incidences about my injury. In our discussion I told them everything which happened in my life. After this discussion those wonderful couples helped me to get medical treatment from operation Smile Medical group which was located in Kenya, East Africa. Mr. and Mrs. Casmin paid around eight thousand US dollars which includes my travel other medical expenses. In February, 2001 I went to Kenya and had minor surgery. Unfortunately, after some time I was told by Operation Smile medical group that my case is beyond their medical group capacity and I was referred to seek medical attention to Operation Smile medical group which is located in New Jersey.
Based on this reference I came to New Jersey to seek medical attention. Unfortunately, I after I reached to New Jersey I learned that the cost for my face treatment is very expensive and unaffordable. For that reason I gave up on my initial plan and started to look for another plastic surgeon. Finally, through the help of some friends I learned about lovethatface.com and through this web page I was very fortunate to meet with Dr. Joe Niamtu, III, and D.M.D and since this time I am getting medical assistance for the last 3-4 months.
I found all the people in the lovethat face medical group very cooperative and supportive. I am very grateful for their unprecedented support which I had till today. Because of the medical treatment which I got my right face showed a lot tremendous improvement. Finally, considering the nature of my injury this is to kindly ask you to extend your help for any other additional treatment.
Thank you very much and God bless you!
Austin Mayton is a Lee-Davis High School student that was struck in the face with an ax during an altercation at a Tractor Supply store.
He sustained a severe facial laceration and his doctors did a nice job repairing it. The severity of the laceration will require multiple cosmetic procedures and to assist Austin and his family Dr. Niamtu agreed to perform the procedures on a pro bono basis.
Dr. Niamtu is treating Austin’s scar with CO2 laser, surgical intervention and permanent fillers. The image below shows Austin’s progress after his second procedure. Several more procedures will be required to obtain further improvements. It is our pleasure to assist Austin and his family.
This is one of the most touching cases Dr. Niamtu has been involved with. Bolivar is a 13 year old boy from the Dominican Republic. He was born into poverty and lived in a large family with very poor and rural conditions. Bolivar sustained many injuries in his young age, which appear to be from child abuse. He would not elaborate on his injuries.
In addition to other injuries, his jaw was broken and has been locked shut since the age of 7. Bolivar was unable to open his mouth at all and was malnourished. His only means of eating was to stuff plantains (a type of banana) and rice through a space in his front teeth caused by a decayed tooth. Eating for Bolivar was difficult and embarrassing as he literally had to stuff food morsels through the space left by the decayed tooth. Embarrassment was not new to Bolivar. He was teased by his peers, was extremely shy and would not make eye contact with anyone.
Medical Care for Children (formerly Heal the Children) is a group dedicated to assisting third-world children in need of surgery. Ann Smith of Mechanicsville, Virginia has an extreme devotion to this group and has arranged a number of surgeries with Dr. Niamtu over the years. In addition to Ann, a local family must agree to sponsor the child while he/she is here. Many generous families open their homes and lives to these children and it is both touching and amusing. Some of these children arrive at the airport with clothes made from burlap bags and show up in the office a week later with a Michael Jordan jersey and listening to an iPod, courtesy of the host family.
Dr. Niamtu and his partner Dr. Larry Metzger performed a procedure in which they removed the fused jaw joints (TMJ) and placed temporary implants so that Bolivar could function. The plan is for Bolivar to return to have further surgery. Dr. Niamtu had a goal in mind. He wanted to see Bolivar open his mouth and eat his first burger.
Bolivar’s surgery was performed by Dr. Niamtu’s office, at no charge.
Click on any image for a larger image.
We first saw Brock when he was a child. He is now 14 years old. Brock was diagnosed in early childhood with a potentially fatal malignant tumor behind his right eye. He was treated with radiation which luckily killed the tumor and saved his life. Unfortunately, the radiation severely effected his facial growth and development leaving Brock with many problems. One problem was the significant facial asymmetry and a large cosmetic defect. Brock is at the age when all young men want to look their best. School mates would stare and ridicule him.
While Brock will require numerous surgical procedures in the future, to improve and maintain his situation, we were looking for a simple and minimally invasive procedure to immediately make a difference in his social situation and to improve his self esteem. Brock had no insurance coverage for this type of procedure so Dr. Niamtu agreed to perform the surgery at no charge.
Brock was treated with fat harvested from his abdomen and reinjected into his face to correct the defect.
Click on any image for a larger image.
Claude was a 15 year old male from Haiti when we met. He was sponsored by Medical Care for Children and Mrs. Ann Smith. Claude was riding a horse with his uncle in his homeland when a motor scooter spooked the horse and Claude was thrown. Claude sustained a broken jaw. It was never treated due to the lack of available medical care and it became fused. Eating and normal oral function were impossible.
Claude had basically been on a liquid diet for years and stated that he most missed the ability to eat an apple! Dr. Niamtu’s goal was for Claude to once again be able to eat an apple.
Dr. Niamtu and his partner Dr. Keeney performed a reconstruction of Claude’s fused jaw joint. The fusion was removed and a prosthetic disc was placed. This allowed Claude to fully open his mouth and as shown in the Richmond Times-Dispatch picture below he finally got to eat his apple!
Claude remained in the US and is now a citizen. Claude’s surgery was performed free of charge by our practice.
Click on any image for a larger image.
This shows the maximum amount that Claude could open his mouth for the 7 years before his surgery. Obviously eating was almost impossible.
Freddie was a 7 year old male from the Dominican Republic when he was brought to the U.S. by Medical Care for Children and Mrs. Ann Smith.
Freddy lived in a poor, remote village without medical care and was sent to a clinic in the Dominican Republic for increasing facial pain and the inability to open his mouth. He also had an expanding mass on his right face. X Rays showed that Freddie had an aggressive tumor of his right facial bones.
His jaw was potato chip thin and was about to fracture without treatment. The plan was to remove the tumor and reconstruct the jaw joint with one of Freddie’s ribs. Using the cartilage on the rib allows the reconstructed jaw joint to grow at the normal rate of the rest of the patient’s body.
Our practice treated Freddy free of charge and Dr. Niamtu and Dr. Alexander performed the facial reconstruction while Dr. Greg Lockhart harvested the ribs pro bono. CJW hospital donated the hospital costs.
Jocelyn came to our office as a young lady from a very poor part of the Dominican Republic. She had a horrific facial tumor that had been developing for years. She was continually mocked and teased, did not go to school and rarely left her home. Dr. Niamtu and his partner Dr. Alexander removed this tumor free of charge with CJW hospitals donating the hospital services. The tumor was benign but very aggressive and will require multiple operations over her lifetime. Unfortunately we have not been able to follow up with Jocelyn in her native country.
This is truly a touching story. Edward is one of the bravest people I have ever met in my life. This little guy (he is getting a lot bigger) was a casualty of the civil war in Liberia. His family was attacked by rebels and Edward and his mother fled to the jungle to hide out. During this period he developed a severe flesh eating infection that destroyed the middle of his face.
The above images are of Edward on his arrival to the USA
Comfort and her husband eventually adopted Edward and he became an American citizen. Edward continues to progress and is developing into a fine young man with extreme artistic skills. Some of Edward’s art is on display on our Patient Art Site and can be viewed at the following link.
Edward and Comfort at our Dr. Niamtu’s Heroes ceremony in October 2013
Alva Terry is truly one of the bravest people we have ever met. This strong lady has severe Neurofibramatosis, which is causing disfiguring tumors all over her body. She was featured in a Richmond Times-Dispatch article by medical reporter, Tammy Smith. We were moved by the fortitude of this amazing lady, and touched by her inability to afford cosmetic surgery. Dr. Niamtu and his office performed multiple surgeries at no charge. We also paid her prescriptions and assisted with transportation costs to our office.
Dr. Niamtu and his staff performed many surgeries on Alva and removed hundreds of the neurofibroma tumors on her face and neck.
Sam Rackley is a young man who was teased by other children about his protruding ears. The teasing was cruel, but Sam’s family was unable to pay for surgery. Dr. Niamtu and his staff performed cosmetic Otoplasty free of charge for Sam. The results make Sam smile from ear to ear and increased his self-confidence.
Ariel Smith is an adorable young lady from St. Vincent in the Grenadines who sustained facial trauma and was left with facial scars. It was our pleasure to perform scar revision for this beautiful child on a pro bono basis. We also thank Dr. Roger Wood and Dr. Hal Maragh for their respective treatment of this young lady as arranged by Dr. Niamtu.
Dr. Niamtu was mentioned in a Richmond Times Dispatch article for offering to perform free reconstructive cosmetic facial surgery on a victim of domestic abuse who was stabbed in the face and body and left for dead by her boyfriend.