Innovation Award—Community Service ~ 2013
UCLA Operation Mend
Dr. Christopher Crisera and Dr. Kodi Azari
UCLA Operation Mend is a groundbreaking program that provides returning military personnel with severe facial and other medical injuries access to the nation’s top plastic and reconstructive surgeons, as well as comprehensive medical and mental-health support for the wounded and their families. The program is being honored with the Innovation Award for Community Service for helping to eliminate barriers and access to healthcare among wounded warriors.
It was established in 2007 through a partnership envisioned by Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Board and Executive Committee member Ron A. Katz and his (now deceased) wife, Maddie. Dr. Christopher Crisera and Dr. Kodi Azari are the co-directors of Operation Mend.
In a partnership with Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), a leading burn and rehabilitation center in San Antonio, Texas, the V.A. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and UCLA Health System, Operation Mend started with facial reconstruction. The program has since expanded in order to optimize healing-body, mind, and spirit. In addition to plastic and reconstructive surgery, mental-health support for the wounded and their families, orthopaedic reconstruction for severely damaged limbs, urologic treatment, otolaryngological care and reproductive issues.
Dr. Azari is an Associate Professor in the UCLA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Division of Plastic Surgery. He has the distinct professional honor to have been one of the lead surgeons on six hand transplantation operations including the first double hand transplantation and first arm transplantation performed in the United States.
Dr. Crisera joined the UCLA Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery as an Assistant Professor in 2005 after completing his plastic surgery residency and microsurgery fellowship at UCLA. He specializes in microvascular surgery. His current research focuses on the vascular biology of perforator flaps and pharmacologic conditioning of free flaps to improve outcomes in breast reconstruction.