Dr. Cuzalina ‘pays it forward’ by offering free cosmetic and reconstructive surgery to deserving people with financial limitations. Here is his story.
(Pictured: Dr. Cuzalina spends time with the local children while doing missionary work in Ghana, Africa - April 2018)
Dr. Cuzalina: I am extremely blessed in countless ways. Just to name a few, I have an amazing wife and children; and blessed to be part of a wonderful church and have great friends there as well as in my professional life; blessed to have a great profession that I love; blessed with good health and a passion for living. I enjoy working hard and staying very busy, traveling and lecturing all over but also feel blessed to be able to simply relax and do some sculpting at home. And, as busy as I am, I have been inspired to serve to improve other people’s lives.
Dr. C: I had an aunt who did not think she had major talents but always stressed that she felt like God put her here to help others. She and my mother always were the first to volunteer to help someone move or any random little act of kindness – they did what they could. At both of their funerals, every single person who knew them spoke about how kind and sweet they were to always help out whenever an opportunity presented itself. That’s how I hope I can live my life. I do what I can; what I know. Being blessed with a surgical ability for body or facial deformities gives me a nice tool I can use to hopefully change at least a few people’s lives for the better. My aunt and mother both gave me some great inspiration. I know many others that also have serving mindsets and you can’t help but have appreciation and inspiration from being around such people.
Dr. C: Ever since starting my practice 20 years ago, I’ve been offering free surgery to patients who could not afford it in a variety of ways. Some were victims of abuse. Some had accidents or congenital deformities. Some had gone through massive weight loss. Colleagues have reached out to me with cosmetic challenges that they felt I could help improve or correct. Word-of-mouth over the years has also brought others to my practice for help. Although my schedule is always busy, I want to allow time for one free patient a month, I hope and pray it will change each life in a very positive way.
Dr. Cuzalina with his wife, children, and three dogs.
Dr. C: A colleague on the east coast emailed about a lady who had reached out to him because of a deformity she had. He did not perform the specific surgery she would need and ask if I would consider treating her. I agreed and had the woman contact me who was missing a breast on one side but could not afford to pay for reconstructive surgery. She was from out of state, so I told her if she could get to Oklahoma, there would be no other costs. I reconstructed not just her breast but, according to her, her sense of self-worth too. And, my Foundation was later able to give her three children some wonderful Christmas gifts. I saw it as two gifts for one deserving woman.
Dr. C: I welcome all requests, study them carefully and choose those that I feel I can help the most. I respond to each application within 60 days. Importantly, I want people to know that if they qualify and are selected, they pay nothing for the surgery – no surgical fee, anesthesiologist, or facility fees. However, this is Not free surgery for vanity purposes or for people who have the ability to pay for surgery by typical means. It is for those truly in need that have no ability to cover any cost at all. Those people can find the application here.
Dr. Cuzalina during a mission trip in Brazil, 2016
Dr. Cuzalina with security in Saudi Arabia, 2017
Dr. Cuzalina with his wife and daughter
Dr. Cuzalina receiving an award abroad
Dr. C: Several years ago, a friend of mine from high school, who was a policeman, was shot in the middle of his spine and paralyzed. He lost everything. I reached out to friends and asked them to help. And they did! A few other wonderful friends initially thought of a golf tournament to raise money for him which I helped get started. That inspired me to then develop the Cuzalina Foundation to continue to provide support for my friend; to provide holiday gifts for children; and college scholarships as well. Every dollar donated is tax deductible and goes to people who need it. There are no administrative costs.
Dr. C: I have taken missionary trips to Brazil and Ghana Africa to pastor to people; raise money for organizations like the Pearl House for Wayward Girls; hand out mosquito nets, etc. – anything that can help devastated people live better lives. I have also operated in many countries such as Vietnam, Saudia Arabia, Argentina, Austria, Turkey etc. My more recent mission trips to African and South America were purely Christian missionary in nature. Operating or lecturing about surgery is easy for me but getting up in front of people and give a sermon was very out of my comfort zone. I have so much respect and admiration for those people that do mission work for a living and lot more than I have been able to do. Frankly, the recent mission trips abroad helped me probably much more than I helped anyone over there.
Dr. Cuzalina in the OR with Dr. Samir Pancholi
Dr. Cuzalina signing book featuring an article he wrote on Rhinoplasty
Dr. Cuzalina at The Aesthetic Awards, 2014
Dr. Cuzalina at The Aesthetic Awards, 2017
Dr. C: My passion for art began when I was very young, but I really did not find out how much I love to sculpt until several years ago. Now, I have a small art studio in my home I use to relax whenever I find the time. My children love to sculpt and paint too and often join me. It’s a nice way to spend time together. The same passion and instinct that allows me to enjoy ‘sculpting’ a face, body or breast at work on a living person also exist during sculpting with clay at home. They are interrelated and both fun. Just totally stress-free with clay that doesn’t bleed.
Dr. C: Yes, I do. I hope that I can inspire others to share their talents, whatever they may be, to make other people’s lives better…even in small ways. Many of my surgical colleagues I know would be willing to do similar things and hopefully by me putting this offer more center stage will inspire a few of them to do something related. I hope eventually an organized network can be created with multiple doctors offering their specific expertise to people that could really use the help.