'Operation Mend' Offers New Hope for Wounded Warriors

Oct 05, 2007, 01:00 ET from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences

    LOS ANGELES, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Operation Mend," a
 unique new partnership between UCLA Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical
 Center in San Antonio, Texas, has been established to help treat several
 U.S. military personnel wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
     The pilot project was launched with the help of philanthropist Ronald
 A. Katz, a well-known inventor and UCLA Medical Center board member, who
 recognized that providing excellent care to injured soldiers need not be
 limited to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Armed Services.
 The project aims to serve as a model for other medical institutions
 interested in helping additional wounded service members.
     "'Operation Mend' represents an extraordinary collaboration between the
 surgeons and staff of UCLA Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center,"
 said Katz, whose Katz Family Foundation will fund all uncovered costs
 associated with the project, including lodging patients and family members
 at UCLA's Tiverton House, a hotel on the hospital campus designed to meet
 the needs of patients receiving treatment at UCLA.
     "We believe this is a great opportunity to partner with the specialists
 at UCLA Medical Center as we strive to always provide the best outcome for
 each of our wounded servicemen and women," said Brig. Gen. James Gilman,
 commander of Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC).
     The project's first patient, U.S. Marine Cpl. Aaron P. Mankin, 25,
 arrived at UCLA Sunday. Mankin, injured by an improvised explosive device
 in Iraq two years ago, sustained burns over 25 percent of his body, and his
 face was severely disfigured. This September, he began a series of facial
 reconstructive surgeries that will take several months to complete. He will
 undergo the second stage of surgery on Tuesday at UCLA.
     "I get to go back to these guys at BAMC and say 'Hey, look at me, we
 can make this happen.' The implications of what will come from this
 collaboration are more far-reaching than anyone has yet to imagine," Mankin
     Since his injury and return to the U.S., Mankin has been at Brooke Army
 Medical Center, where he lives with his wife, Marine Lance Cpl. Diana
 Mankin, and their 8-month-old daughter, Madeline Paige, nicknamed "Maddie."
     The surgeries will be led by Dr. Timothy Miller, chief of
 reconstructive and plastic surgery at UCLA Medical Center, who is also a
 military veteran.
     "It is a privilege for UCLA Medical Center to assist our country's men
 and women in the military," said Dr. David T. Feinberg, chief executive
 officer and interim associate vice chancellor of the UCLA Health System.
 "We are honored to partner with Brooke Army Medical Center to help heal
 several of America's wounded warriors."
     When news of UCLA's involvement in the project became known, UCLA
 clinical nurse specialist and former U.S. Army nurse Priscilla "Patti"
 Taylor led a community group of military veterans in creating several
 "quilts of valor" to be presented to arriving soldiers -- a military
 tradition. Taylor has also volunteered to serve as Mankin's case manager
 and will help coordinate his care at UCLA.
     UCLA Medical Center is ranked as one of the top three hospitals in the
 nation and has been rated the best hospital in the western United States
 for 18 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. It is the only
 Southern California hospital to earn a spot on the magazine's "honor roll"
 in each of the 18 years the survey has been conducted. The medical center
 is a nonprofit, self-supporting 668-bed hospital providing patient care in
 all medical specialties. It is the primary teaching hospital for the David
 Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. For more information, visit
     If you would like to contribute to the Operation Mend program, please
 visit https://giving.ucla.edu/plasticsurgery or contact Adrienne Walt,
 Director of Development, UCLA Medical Sciences, awalt@support.ucla.edu,
 (310) 267-1835.
     (Note to Editors: A preview of b-roll footage and sound bites is
 available at http://streaming.uclahealth.org/operationmend using Windows
     This news release was issued on behalf of Newswise(TM). For more
 information, visit http://www.newswise.com.

SOURCE University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences