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AICPE Onlus: plastic surgery on a mission

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Paraguay, Togo, Beirut, Ucraina. In the ten years since its establishment, AICPE Onlus, the non-profit association affiliated with the Italian Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, has organised humanitarian missions around the world in collaboration with its volunteer surgeons.

Dr. Marco Stabile, president of AICPE Onlus and a specialist in plastic surgery, currently serving as the director of the Surgical Unit at the Piacenza Hospital within San Giovanni Hospital, recounts the association’s beginnings.

Passion and determination: how AICPE Onlus was born

«Long ago, I had started going on missions to Africa for plastic surgery interventions», reflects Stabile. – The idea of creating the association emerged from this». A coffee, a couple of conversations among colleagues, and ready to help: «Dr. Bernardi and I (Editor’s note: Claudio Bernardi, current president of AICPE) wondered how to expand our staff and organise fundraising. So, sitting at a table at the Baglioni Hotel in Florence, we founded AICPE Onlus».

The initial humanitarian missions took place in Togo, at the Afgnan Hospital, approximately two hours by car from the capital.  «Meanwhile, however, – Stabile continues, – the Ebola outbreak occurred in Africa, and we had to stop».

AICPE Onlus
Dr. Marco Stabile, president of AICPE Onlus, surgeon specialized in plastic surgery, currently director of the Operative Unit of surgery of the Hospital of Piacenza at the Hospital San Giovanni.

Upon returning to Italy, Stabile meets Dr. Bruno Balmelli in Pisa, a Paraguayan specialising in plastic surgery, who conducted five missions annually in his home country. «We asked him if we could help,-  recounts Stabile, – so the second mission was in Paraguay». Subsequently, the president, along with his colleague Dr. Bernardi, opened a new mission in Benin, which unfortunately was halted due to the pandemic.

«We will soon go to Zambia in support of a humanitarian mission organised by American doctors», anticipates the association’s president. «They asked for support because many patients have accumulated during the pandemic,» explains Stabile.

Beyond humanitarian missions

«AICPE Onlus has also assisted, throughout its history, populations that have experienced tragedies» , reports Stabile. In 2020, after the explosion in the port of Beirut: «We raised $10,000.» The association’s aid is not only directed abroad but also within Italy. «During Covid, San Giovanni Hospital in Piacenza, 20 km from Codogno, was the first Covid Hospital, and at that time, ventilators were not readily available,» recalls Stabile. On that occasion, the association’s board decided to allocate €25,000 to purchase the last available ventilators. «Also during the pandemic, we sent 100 helmets for the breathing of hospitalised patients to Paraguay

The missions of AICPE Onlus respond to health emergencies. In March 2022, Stabile went to Ukraine to deliver humanitarian aid to Sumy Hospital on the border with Russia. «With a bit of emotion, I called the board, and we allocated €20,000 and rented a minibus to transport all the material

The objectives for the future of AICPE Onlus

«Training local doctors is extremely important,» emphasises Stabile. It is necessary to cultivate a culture of education to prepare the personnel and enable them to continue the work of our surgeons.

«For the future, our goal is to sustain the ongoing missions, – Stabile specifies, – and establish a ‘school’ to train local surgeons specialising in plastic surgery conditions».


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