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Winter 2007

UCLA Medical Center Teams Up to Heal Scars of War

A unique partnership between a military hospital and UCLA Medical Center dubbed “Operation Mend” will help several Armed Services personnel wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first patient, U.S. Marine Cpl. Aaron Mankin, 25, was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He began a series of facial reconstructive surgeries in September that will take several months to complete.

"It is a privilege for UCLA Medical Center to assist our country's men and women in the military," says David T. Feinberg, M.D., CEO of UCLA Hospital System. "We are honored to partner with Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) to help heal several of America's wounded warriors."

The surgeries will be led by Timothy Miller, M.D., chief of reconstructive and plastic surgery at UCLA and a Vietnam veteran. Service members like Cpl. Mankin "have given a great sacrifice to our country," Dr. Miller says. "I feel it is my obligation to help them in any way I possibly can ... and to the extent that I can, I am very grateful."

Operation Mend was launched with the help of UCLA Medical Center board member and philanthropist Ronald A. Katz, who recognized that providing excellent care to injured soldiers need not be limited to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Armed Services. “I think it is the private sector’s duty to stand up … and do something extra to help,” says Katz. “[UCLA] has a spectacular facial-reconstruction group, and I asked, ‘Is there a way that we could offer our services and give these kids not only the best the Army has to offer, but the best the country has to offer?’”

The Katz Family Foundation will fund all uncovered costs of the project, while UCLA will arrange to house the patients and their families at UCLA Tiverton House.

To support Operation Mend, go to https://giving.ucla.edu/plasticsurgery.

Upholding a long-time Army tradition, UCLA clinical nurse specialist and former U.S. Army Cpl. Patti Taylor organized a community group of ex-service members to create a “quilt of valor” to greet Mankin upon his arrival.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Aaron Mankin with his wife, Marine
Lance Cpl. Diane Mankin, and daughter, Maddie 

To view the video about Operation Mend and making the "quilt of valor" in windows media format, go to streaming.uclahealth.org/opmendquilt

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