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Donald R. Laub, Sr., MD was born at the stroke of midnight January 1, 1935 in the Shorewood suburb of Milwaukee Wisconsin, located in the Midwestern United States of America. The Midwest is more than a geographical place; it connotes a culture in which education is of utmost importance, and where diligence in the classroom is the primary mode of achievement. It cultivated not only an appetite for academic success, but a strong work ethic as well. After attending Marquette University for his undergraduate education and earning an M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin (at the time called Marquette University School of Medicine), Dr. Laub remained true to his culture by completing his internship at the prestigious Yale School of Medicine.
Three years of working ninety hours per week, coupled with near-total patient responsibility at the early level yielded top honors, but most importantly, a raw product that gained the attention and mentorship of then Professor and Chief Robert A. Chase. Dr. Chase continued to mold Dr. Laub to the best of his ability as both moved westward from Yale to the Stanford University School of Medicine. His curriculum included the early development of psychomotor surgical skills, harnessing the latest technology to report on surgical procedures, and international humanitarianism.
At Stanford, Dr. Laub matured into Assistant Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from 1968-1980. In the course of his professional development, he served as President of the educational foundation of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and, together with Dr. Chase, co-founded a 6 year integrated residency program that combined general surgery training, plastic and reconstructive surgery training, and a sabbatical extramural year. Dr. Laub also founded the Stanford Primary Care Associate Program, which continues to produce excellent Physician Assistants.
In 1965, 13 year-old Antonio Victoria arrived at Stanford University Medical Center from his home in Mexicali, Mexico, where his cleft lip and palate had made him a social pariah. He had no education and no chance for social advancement, but was otherwise normal. Dr. Chase was able to restore the boy’s appearance with a mere three operations – a gift that allowed him to continue in life as a happy, productive member of society where once he had been shunned. As Dr. Laub witnessed Antonio’s dramatic physical and emotional transformation at the hands of a craftsman surgeon, his own career path underwent a similar metamorphosis, from Physician Researcher to Physician Educator; he would dedicate his life to healing the Antonios of the world, and to teaching others how to do the same. Thus, the seed for Interplast germinated.
In 1969, Dr. Laub founded Interplast (now called ReSurge International) with the mission of transforming lives through the art of plastic and reconstructive surgery. He became the first academic to develop and lead multidisciplinary teams on humanitarian surgical trips to developing countries. Since its inception, Interplast has provided tens of thousands of life-altering operations gratis, established thousands of long-term international professional relationships, and turned on countless of medical professionals to the “helping others” way of life. The original spirit of Interplast has given rise to dozens of independent humanitarian medical organizations worldwide, including Interplast Germany, Interplast Turkey, Interplast Holland, Interplast Italy, Interplast Florida, Interplast West Virginia, Interplast Australia, OneHeart World-Wide, and IVUMed,. In their unique ways, they all carry Dr. Laub’s vision of healing the world through plastic surgery.
Aside from his notable accomplishments with Interplast, Dr. Laub has contributed novel surgical techniques to his field of specialty. He made one of the first academic investigations into the efficacy of treating gender dysphoria with surgery. He pioneered the rectosigmoid vaginoplasty. He also invented the metoidioplasty and the post-modern phalloplasty. Dr. Laub’s further professional achievements include developing Q switched ruby laser tattoo removal and the use of medical chemicals to reduce risk of skin cancer while improving cosmetic appearance.
In 2000, Dr. Laub was diagnosed with aggressive intravascular CNS large B cell lymphoma. After surviving a difficult but successful battle, he dedicated his “second life” to healthier living. He assisted James B. Johnson in developing the alternate day calorie restriction diet, which prescribes a program for weight loss and longevity based on SIRT-1 gene activation.
After completing 159 surgical trips to developing countries, Dr. Laub is now focused on mentoring undergraduate and medical students, and conveying the value of students in the field of international health. He has been involved in teaching several courses at Stanford University, including Principles and Practice of International Humanitarian Medicine. As organizations around the world carry on his vision, Dr. Laub works tirelessly to transfer his values to future generations of humanitarians. He currently resides in Redwood City, California with his wife Judy.