Dr. Noordhoff first came to my attention from his son in law, Dr. Robert Lamberts. He wanted me to know about the amazing award Dr. Noordhoff had recently achieved, and more than that, about the good works he has accomplished over his lifetime.
Every two years the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) honors physicians who have made the most significant contribution to plastic surgery over their career, with the Prestigious Sir Harold Gilles Lecture Award delivered at the annual meeting. Grand Rapids’ plastic surgeon Dr. M. Samuel Noordhoff was selected for this year’s award. The foundation for this success in plastic surgery was laid here in West Michigan. Dr. Noordhoff had all of his training in general surgery and plastic surgery in Grand Rapids at Butterworth Hospital.
Dr. Noordhoff is recognized worldwide for helping children and adults in underserved areas receive holistic care for cleft palate and craniofacial deformity. Much of this assistance has been with his own time and money. In 1989, he formed the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation to transform lives where there was a lack of medical resources. Since then he has established the Chang Gung Craniofacial Center in Taiwan, recognized as one of the leading centers for cleft lip and palate care in the world. His “Love Makes Whole” team has traveled to 11 countries, and completed 56 cleft missions serving Vietnam, Kenya, Nigeria, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, Myanmar, the Dominican Republic, Laos, Indonesia and Mongolia. The Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation team has also trained 115 seed craniofacial medical practitioners from 14 countries.
Unless helped, children born with cleft palate and craniofacial deformity face a lifetime of discrimination, shame, problems with speech and inadequate nutrition. Repair of defects can take several surgeries, with multiple medical specialties involved.
When I talked to Dr. Noordhoff about his accomplishments it was important to him that I give credit to the team of plastic surgeons, business manager, Kim Ma, and Mr. Yung-Ching Wang who was instrumental in the funding which launched the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.