Congratulations to the 2021 Urology Care Foundation Humanitarian Recognition Award Winner:
Catherine Rhu deVries, MD
Nominated By: Danielle Sweeney, MD, FAAP
Dr. Catherine deVries has been a leader and visionary in providing urologic care, education and training in low resource areas around the world for decades. Her work has focused not only on providing urologic clinical care, but also education and training of international healthcare partners, as well as promoting best surgical practices and safe surgery for all. On her first international humanitarian trip to Honduras in 1995 with a plastic surgery organization called Interpol, she conceived the idea for International Volunteers in Urology (IVU), as she recognized congenital urologic abnormalities were significantly more common than other anomalies treated by the plastic surgeons. This trip marked the inception of IVU which organizes between twenty and twenty-five short term educational and surgical training trips each year. For years, Dr. deVries has continued to reach out to potential partners throughout the world in ceaseless, bidirectional educational initiatives and humanitarian efforts to “Teach One, Reach Many.”
Dr. deVries has been recognized by many organizations as a true leader in the advancement of global surgical care. Honors include the 2009 American Urological Association’s Distinguished Contribution Award, 2012 Surgical Humanitarian Award from the American College of Surgeons, the 2013 Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine and Urogenital Reconstruction, as well as the Société of Internationale d’Urologie’s 2013 Albert Schweitzer Award. These, among others, highlight Dr. deVries’ selfless and constructive collaborative efforts. Because of her leadership and vision, countless urologists in high resource settings contribute their skills and funds for the benefit of urologists and patients in limited-resource settings. Because of Dr. deVries, the science and delivery of quality urologic surgery has been significantly advanced on a global scale for the benefit of countless patients. Dr. deVries’ humanitarian efforts extend beyond IVU; she was also the founder and director of the University of Utah Center for Global Surgery, which was one of the first global surgery departments in the U.S. She continues to develop and oversee numerous projects and courses for the department. She is involved with several global surgical societies which include the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH). Additionally, Dr. deVries works with the Association of Academic Global Surgery and the American College of Surgeons in Operation Giving Back.
Dr. deVries has dedicated an extraordinary career to improving the surgical care of others around the world through her philanthropy, commitment of time, expertise, vision and knowledge. We are honored to award her with the inaugural 2021 Urology Care Foundation Humanitarian Award.
2021 Humanitarian Award Nominees
The Urology Care Foundation would like to recognize this year’s nominees for their extraordinary humanitarian efforts around the world.
Hear their extraordinary stories in our new podcast series, Humanitarian Heroes in Urology.
Nominee: Fiona Burkhard
Nominated By: Ali Hashemi Gheinani, PhD, BS, MSC
Since 2016, Dr. Fiona Christine Burkhard has volunteered her time and medical expertise to improve urologic care in Tadjikistan. Tadjikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world; only about 5 percent of the country is habitable, as the mountainous high altitude makes access to essential resources and medical care extremely difficult. For three weeks a year, she volunteers with the Swiss Surgical Team organization at a hospital in the Pamir region, training local urologists and other medical personnel. To help provide comprehensive training, Dr. Burkhard brings with her an experienced team of medical professionals including nurses, urologists, anesthesiologists, visceral surgeons, gynecologists and more. She finds innovative solutions for local medical personnel, training them to effectively treat urologic patients with their limited resources. She has helped implement safe solutions for transurethral resection (TUR) procedures so local teams can safely treat bladder cancer, place stents and more without using open surgery methods.
Nominee: Sakti Das, MD
Nominated By: John M. Barry, MD
A lifelong humanitarian, Dr. Sakti Das has served in medical mission work for nearly 40 years. He is a founding member of International Volunteers in Urology (IVU), which provides urologic health care, training and education in low resource areas around the world. Dr. Das has provided direct surgical care and developed infrastructure to sustain treatment for thousands of underserved patients and has served in 12 countries on three continents, including a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Currently, he volunteers his time once a year to his native country of India and one weekend a month in San Blas, Mexico for nine months out of the year. He has built not only a distinguished academic career, but has given back to underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad for decades.
Nominee: Steven Elliot Lerman, MD
Nominated By: Jonathan Bergman, MD, MPH
Dr. Steven Lerman personifies humanitarian medicine and has been involved in impactful humanitarian work for well over a decade. Serving in Guatemala, he helps to organize and also participates in annual 10-day medical missions, providing complex pediatric urological surgical care to underserved populations while educating the local community of clinicians on how to provide this care. He recently established a similar medical mission in Honduras, where he performs complex urological care for highly underserved populations. Dr. Lerman considers not only the operative needs of his patients, but the complex psychosocial needs of the population and the infrastructure needed to get care to people. In the U.S., Dr. Lerman runs a busy pediatric urology practice at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. He established a network of "Expected Practices" to define how to improve the quality and value of care for children in crisis with poor timely access to pediatric urological care. He collaborated with pediatricians, health system leaders, radiologists and other stakeholders to create a program that helps guide and manage care for pediatric urology patients. Dr. Lerman's example is a shining light and guiding star for many of his colleagues, trainees and students.
Nominee: Philip Shihua Li, MD
Nominated By: Stanton Charles Honig, MD
Dr. Philip Li has been an extraordinary mentor, teacher, volunteer and humanitarian throughout his career. He has specifically developed innovative therapies for circumcision for HIV prevention in underserved areas of Africa and China. Dr. Li is an internationally well-known expert and researcher in no-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) and microsurgical training in male infertility. He has been a key figure in developing the surgical manual and protocol for the NSV technique, which has become the most popular vasectomy technique in North America. He has trained and mentored hundreds of urologists and andrologists to perform the NSV and male infertility microsurgeries worldwide and has been awarded several prestigious Honorary Professorships in Urology and Andrology. He was the first to create two innovative Smartphone Apps: "Learning Male Infertility Microsurgery Training" and the "ShangRing Male Circumcision Device Surgical Training." As a Principal and Co-principal Investigator, Dr. Li and his team have been awarded several multi-million-dollar grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Canadian Challenge Fund and NIH for HIV prevention through male circumcision. He continues to play a critical leading role in several international randomized clinical trials, as well as in surgical training workshops for the ShangRing circumcision technique in Africa and China. The potential global impact of the ShangRing is tremendous for future reproductive health and HIV prevention in Africa. His work serves as a model of integrity and humility and is unparalleled in urology.
Nominee: Brian Keith McNeil, MD
Nominated By: Jeffrey P. Weiss, MD
One of New York's few African American uro-oncologists, Dr. Brian McNeil has been caring for patients in underserved communities in Central Brooklyn, NYC for the past decade. His performance in treating urological cancer every day in addition to his voluntary front-line redeployment during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was exemplary. Dr. McNeil is first and foremost an educator who since 2018 has led and made outstanding contributions to the Urology Residency Program at SUNY Downstate, heavily represented by persons of color. He graciously accepted the position of Chief of Urology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center to give back to the very community from which he originated. He has mentored numerous impressionable medical students and residents while serving as Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at Downstate and is primarily responsible for advances in the senior year medical school curriculum. He has sacrificed financial gain to both treat a predominantly indigent Afro-Caribbean population and train persons of color among the roster of urological specialists in the US.
Nominee: Carlos Manuel Morante Deza, MD
Nominated By: Roberto Paz-Manrique, MD, MBBS
Dr. Carlos Morante Manuel Deza is a urology oncologist in Peru who has dedicated his medical career to bringing quality care to cancer patients. Coming from humble origins in his hometown of Guadalupe, he worked hard to establish an impressive career through a residency at the toughest and biggest public cancer center in Peru, the National Cancer Institute in Lima (Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplasicas – INEN). While building his medical expertise, Dr. Morante remains devoted to his hometown and its people with limited access to medical care. He established an extension of the Peruvian League for Fighting Against Cancer in Guadalupe and conducts yearly oncology health campaigns. Since 1994, Dr. Morante has led groups of oncologists to treat the people of Guadalupe and its surrounding areas so they can be seen by top oncology specialists in breast cancer, cervical cancer, urologic oncology and other malignancies. He is well known for his commitment to the development of his home town; the legacy of these health campaigns will remain for many years.
Nominee: Allen F. Morey, MD
Nominated By: Arthur I. Sagalowsky, MD
Dr. Allen Morey has led recurring, five-day urology surgical relief missions to Honduras for the past 23 years. Political instability and a struggling economy have left Honduras an underserved region in the availability of specialized reconstructive urologic care. The missions consist of performing life-enhancing – and, in some cases, life-saving – complex pelvic urinary urethral reconstructive surgical repairs. Additionally, these missions provide training to local physicians and nursing providers and allow urology residents to gain important educational experience. The missions have been coordinated with planning, case selections and participation by the Honduran urologists. Patients who receive surgery see an improvement in their quality of life; many of them can return to work with improved self-esteem, happiness and economic safety. The missions provide a tangible benefit to local community health, boosting morale and goodwill toward the mission teams and their respective countries of origin.
Nominee: John Hin-Kay Ngan, MD
Nominated By: Elizabeth Boettcher Yerkes, MD
Dr. John Hin-Kay Ngan provides urgent and chronic specialty care to abandoned babies born with severe life-threatening congenital anomalies in China. Dr. Ngan is a selfless pediatric urologist who has organized and provided free expert specialty care to rescued orphan babies and children with complex conditions that affect the genitourinary tract, kidney function potential and nervous system function. His primary practice has been in Hong Kong since completing his pediatric urology fellowship in Seattle. In his personal time, Dr. Ngan and his charitable organization MedArt China Orphan Outreach actively work for children in Suzhou, China. Dr. Ngan has provided urologic care for children with spina bifida and related conditions, engaged local specialists in other disciplines for ongoing care and created a paradigm for periodic delivery of compassionate and thorough multidisciplinary services to these children. Best of all, local talent is cultivated, and the infrastructure for this care remains in place for the disadvantaged and abandoned infants and children of China. Team members volunteer their time, talent and compassion and gladly pay their expenses. All care is provided free to the children.
Nominee: Ranjeet Avinash Patil, MD
Nominated By: Self
Dr. Ranjeet Patil is a urologist who resides and works at two hospitals in the Sangli area of Maharashtra in India. There is widespread poverty, illiteracy, ignorance of medical ailments and a lack of qualified urologists in the region. He dedicates his time to volunteering his medical expertise to poverty-stricken patients at the Bharati Hospital, Sangli and often forgoes his set salary to ensure the population receives quality urologic care. He provides free consultations and follow up visits to patients who fall below the poverty line. In the past three years, Dr. Patil has examined over a thousand patients, performed several hundred urology surgeries and has volunteered over 2,300 hours in exams and consultations, all free of charge. Additionally, he has voluntarily trained surgical residents and interns in the field of urology without remuneration. During the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, multiple hospitals were converted to dedicated COVID hospitals and many were closed due to medical frontline workers themselves getting infected with the virus. Both routine and urology procedures were restricted due to the unavailability of medical care setup, which severely affected impoverished patients who could not access public transport and were restricted to containment zones. Even then, Dr. Patil continued to serve these patients, examining nearly 300 patients and performing emergency urologic operations until he became infected with COVID-19. After his treatment and quarantine period, he has resumed his voluntary and humanitarian duties and continues to serve one of the most underserved populations in the world.
Nominee: Lee Ann Richter, MD
Nominated By: Cheryl B. Iglesia, MD FACOG
Since 2015, Dr. Lee Richter has been involved in ongoing work serving women with obstetric related fistula through the IOWD (International Organization for Women's Development) in Kigali, Rwanda. This non-profit organization is dedicated to providing underserved women of Rwanda with specialized fistula surgical services that are otherwise not readily available or affordable. Dr. Richter works at the mission two weeks every year and is involved in year-long work with the IOWD Board for student and resident education. As a urologist who completed an OBGYN-based fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, she is uniquely trained to treat this condition has shown admirable dedication to this cause. Because of her dedication and aptitude, her role quickly advanced from participating surgeon to that of the leadership of the missions and within the IOWD. For the past 3 years, Dr. Richter has been one of the mission team leaders, responsible for overseeing all clinical and surgical activities. As part of her work, Dr. Richter is deeply committed to teaching Rwandan medical students and residents. Through lectures, hands-on teaching in the operating room, and surgical workshops, her goal is to strengthen the capacity of local physicians to independently perform these specialized surgeries.
Nominee: Grannum R. Sant, MD, FACS, FRCS
Nominated By: Arthur Louis Burnett II, MD, MBA
Since 2005, Dr. Grannum Sant has made regular visits to Jamaica and Trinidad (at least yearly) and has participated actively in the Caribbean Urological Association annual meeting resident academic sessions. He is an active leader in the Caribbean Urological Association, helping to build the stature of this organization and initiating authorship workshops and other training programs for urology residents. Having come from the Caribbean, Dr. Sant is now a role model in urology and mentor for urology residents in training within the University of West Indies health care system. He is accomplished as an academic urologist and researcher with significant impact in urology, particularly in the areas of interstitial cystitis, BPH and lower urinary tract disorders. He has served as a mentor and urologic advisor for hundreds of medical students and urology residents, both abroad and in the United States. By way of his advancement from humble beginnings in Trinidad to a leader in urology, Dr. Sant is an example for, and inspiration to, many young people who have advanced in science and medicine.
Nominee: Mellve Shahid, MD
Nominated By: Zachary A. Hamilton, MD
Over a decade ago, Dr. Mellve Shahid was diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer and became committed to overcome his diagnosis and devote his life to the treatment of the disease. Since that time, he has founded The Empowerment Network (TEN) which provides advocacy, education, and patient support for underserved populations across the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Through his efforts, he has increased the awareness of prostate health and prostate cancer screenings throughout the region. He has raised thousands of dollars for prostate cancer research and support, received multiple honors and awards, and started a local radio show podcast. As president and CEO of The Empowerment Network, Dr. Shahid volunteers his time and efforts daily, as well as to monthly support groups to individually meet with the men who attend. He is open and honest and provides the men with the confidence, determination and support they need to fight their disease. He even arranges for group members to sit with men prior to surgery to provide emotional support on their treatment journey.
Nominee: Sybill Storz
Nominated By: Ralph V. Clayman, MD
Sybill Storz, as Managing Director of Karl Storz Inc., has provided educational opportunities and urologic instrumentation to urologists in underserved nations throughout the world, benefitting thousands of people. During her tenure at Karl Storz Inc., over 50 philanthropic missions have been completed with the majority in Africa and South America. Throughout her more than two decades in leadership, urologic equipment has been donated to urologists/surgeons working in impoverished countries around the globe. The work includes establishing education and infrastructure by providing urological equipment to teach urologists/surgeons aspects of minimally invasive urology, and to donate instrumentation to community hospitals. This equipment is first used to help train physicians through educational courses and then donated for use in servicing hundreds and thousands of people within the community. Clearly ingrained in the ethos of the company, this philanthropic effort continues through the next generation of leadership at Karl Storz, Inc.
Nominee: Ralph F. Stroup, MD
Nominated By: Eliza Folsom
Ralph Stroup’s volunteer work and healthcare infrastructure improvements have been focused in the Laikipia Districts East, Central, and North, located in the Central Highlands of Kenya. After a trip to Kenya in 2008 for an HIV/AIDS training workshop, Dr. Stroup was so struck by the abject poverty and lack of basic resources that he began the process of forming a non-profit organization, Kenyan Health Care Initiatives. Within a year, his organization raised funds to complete the construction of the Lokusero Clinic, a medical clinic with solar panels and access to clean water. Since the completion of Lokusero Clinic, additional clinics have been constructed in nearby communities of Chumvi, Ntalabany, and Arjiju, staffed by nurses who are largely responsible for the health of the communities they serve, and impacting more than 10,000 patients.
Throughout his life, Dr Stroup has found and created opportunities to help others in need including his service in the U.S Air Force Medical Corps and teaching at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Urology. Whether representing his country in Vietnam, serving the community of New Haven, Connecticut, training future urologists or improving the lives of villagers in remote regions of Kenya, Dr. Stroup exemplifies the spirit of philanthropy. He is a helper to his core, using his skills to teach and serve others around the world.
Nominee: Min Thway, MHS, FAAP
Nominated by: Self
Dr. Min Thway is a urologic surgeon at Sittwe General Hospital in Arakam, Myanmar. He volunteers his time by providing quality urologic surgeries to patients, even during times of turmoil. He practices in a region that has limited access to medical care due to conflicts of war and more recently, restrictions from COVID-19 outbreaks. Dr. Thway serves as a first assistant in a 500-bed surgical ward where he provides training to junior medical staff and personal hygiene to patients in order to prevent urinary issues. Since July 2020, he has treated over 1,000 patients including emergency uro-surgery injuries due to war, accidents or assaults. Additionally, he continues to provide treatment in spite of rising COVID cases and limited protective resources.
Nominee: Ramón Virasoro, MD
Nominated By: Jessica DeLong, MD
In 2013, Dr. Ramón Virasoro began making biannual week-long surgical mission trips to the Dominican Republic, initially focused in Moca, a resource-poor area outside the capital. It was clear there was a great need and over the ensuing two years, the idea for a formal urology fellowship was born. Dr. Virasoro developed and co-founded the first urological fellowship in the Caribbean in 2016, based in Santo Domingo, DR. This program, that he co-directs, has graduated two fully trained fellows and is currently training a third. Dr. Virasoro has trained in-country medical students, residents, attendings, operating room staff, perioperative staff and radiology staff, as well as US-based students, in addition to improving infrastructure in-country. In 2018, Dr. Virasoro co-founded Surgery and Anesthesia For Everyone, Inc (SAFE), a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable access to safe surgical and perioperative care. Under SAFE, these urological fellowships have continued to thrive, and regular mission trips are undertaken by teams from across the United States, Central and South America. Devoting more than 1,500 hours of weekly leadership and administration time and over 1,000 hours in direct patient care in-country, Dr. Virasoro has achieved much in the last seven years. He facilitated integration of the fellows into the national health system, ensuring a position in the public health sector where they will continue to serve under- and uninsured patients. The specialty of reconstructive surgery has undergone a transformation in the Dominican Republic, directly due to the passion and unparalleled commitment of Dr. Virasoro and his team.