Valley Doctor on a Healing Mission

Visalia, CA, USA Most days, Dr. Alex Lechtman performs surgeries here at the Cypress Surgery Center in Visalia. But Dr. Lechtman says the main reason he became a plastic surgeon was to help children with deformities.

Dr. Alex Lechtman said, "You see them in the books and you learn about them but when you're a plastic surgeon you get the opportunity to really do something for them so it's very…it's very heartwarming."

On Thursday Lechtman will travel to Mexico to treat children with cleft lips and pallets and other deformities. These are pictures from his last visit. Lechtman said the surgeries breathe new life into the children, who are often shy from being secluded and shunned by the community.

Lechtman said, "They can't work they can't do the kinds of things that you and I take for granted and so to allow these people the opportunity to get a job and get married."

Each surgery would normally cost thousands of dollars but Lechtman and a team of other doctors from San Diego perform them for free.

"For the cost down there this is all for free it's just to try to help the folks that are down there," said Lechtman.

Lechtman will be treating children in small communities about two and a half hours east of Guadalajara. He says he'll be far away from the violence between rival drug cartels that's killed more than a thousand people in the last two months, and triggered spring break travel warnings from the U.S. State Department.

Lechtman said, "I'm not concerned this group as I said has been going there for a long time and we're very well known in the area I think most of the violence has been in the border towns and so we won't be anywhere near that."

Dr Lechtman and his colleagues will perform up to 100 surgeries in the few days that they're there. He returns to Visalia on Sunday.


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