A first successful gathering of Plastic Surgeons of Lebanese Descent was organized in August 1999 in Lebanon; It was The First Lebanese-Brazilian Plastic Surgery Meeting. An attempt to organize a second meeting was unfortunately aborted by the 2006 war. Far from surrendering in face of the still unstable situation, once a utopic idea, the Association of Plastic Surgeons of Lebanese Descent – APSLD was officially created in October 2010 in Beirut with the Ist World Congress of Plastic Surgeons of Lebanese Descent. The IInd World Congress of Plastic Surgeons of Lebanese Descent was then organized in Cancun, Mexico in October 2012, followed by the IIIrd World Congress of Plastic Surgeons of Lebanese Descent in Beirut again in October 2014. The IVth Congress will be in 2017 in São Paulo, Brazil.
There is no doubt interest in Plastic Surgery, in particular Aesthetic Surgery, has increased tremendously over the last decade. Parallel to this increased interest is a proliferation of procedures being performed by surgeons not fully trained or even by none plastic surgeons. Though some are providing good service, most are contributing to the negative publicity our specialty is having nowadays in Lebanon. The World Congresses of Plastic Surgeons of Lebanese Descent are the occasion to put things in their proper perspective and to demonstrate the real value, knowledge and artistic skills of the true Lebanese Plastic Surgeons in Lebanon as well as abroad.
This association that includes all of these surgeons has great appeal. By holding congresses at regular intervals both in Lebanon and the countries of the Lebanese diaspora, two things can be accomplished. The first is that these unique meetings can serve as an exchange of knowledge and skills and help to ”cross pollinate” and spread the word quickly about refining procedures that have not yet been included in mainstream publications. The second and perhaps the more significant accomplishment is the renaissance of cultural ties among its members all of whom connect directly to Lebanon, the birthplace of their fathers and grandfathers and in fact the birthplace of their pride and honor. The mutual bond of plastic surgery transcends the frequent and persistent problems of religion and sectionalism and erases those barriers that hobble many great cultures. As Khalil Gibran wrote, “He who denies his heritage has no heritage”.
The invitation was extended to other countries as well. There was a predominance of Brazilian colleagues at the meeting which took place in 1999. We planned the scientific portion of the program for the morning periods, leaving the afternoons free for tourism and the evenings for gastro-musical encounters during which the Lebanese cuisine was appreciated by all. Three details left their mark in the memories of the participants on that occasion: the first was the most unusual in the history of medical congresses. It is common knowledge that, at national and international plastic surgery events, the presence of guests – spouses or others – rarely passes more than 40%. At this event, for every registrant there were 1.2 guests, an unheard of number. The second, the traditional Lebanese cuisine, known and appreciated throughout the world, needs no further explanation. The third, the nature and geography of the country, the unique Lebanese hospitality with its proximity to Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, in addition to being a large center for emigration to Brazil, comprise an atmosphere which impresses its visitors. Of the scientific part, as always the world over, after only a few weeks, little remains of the information received and exchanged which is retained in the memory of the participants. On the other hand, the social aspects linger unless they have little appeal, in which case the scientific agenda remains the sole motive for returning to future congresses.
For reasons related to the political instability in Lebanon, the event did not occur again until November, 2010, when it was put on for the second time, concurrently with the First Congress of the Lebanese Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, as always under the ingenious leadership of Prof. Bishara and his professional colleagues. The event was an absolute scientific and social triumph. There were speakers from 25 countries, the majority Lebanese descendents living outside their home country, with more than 200 scientific presentations in two concurrent sessions. Once again, the Lebanese hospitality and social programs were integrated naturally and effortlessly. Pleasant recollections still remain in the memories of all the participants. By the end of the event, Dr. Jose Luis Haddad from Mexico had already been elected and installed as successor of the Third Congress of Plastic Surgery for Lebanese Descendents to be scheduled for 2012. The internationalization of this idea has steadily gained more followers in the hopes of greater integration among the plastic surgeons of Lebanese origin. There are no descendents of the second, third or even other generations who don’t have, in addition to their family name, knowledge of their ancestors, cities of origin and the particular saga of their family. Though Lebanon may be a small country, it has, throughout its six thousand years of history and culture, exported descendents to every continent. As with the descendents of other countries around the world who have migrated from their homelands, cultural ties are maintained to varied degrees. This is part of culture and the human sensibility.
This message is the first of a series which will be distributed in order to raise awareness of the next meeting – to be held in 2012 in Mexico – among the international members of the new Association of Lebanese Descendents. Shortly, the announcement of a new medical association model will be sent to all constituents. Become a member. The payoff is friendship, affection and the maintenance of our ancestors’ culture. Those who have no past, have nothing to speak of in the present, nor the future.
Ricardo Baroudi, MD | email@example.com
Bishara Atiyeh, MD | firstname.lastname@example.org