REES--Dr. Thomas D. AMREF USA, the board members and AMREF worldwide staff mourn the loss of our co-founder, Dr. Thomas D. Rees, remarkable visionary and renowned surgeon, who passed away at his home in Santa Fe, NM on Thursday, November 14. Dr. Rees was a Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at New York University School of Medicine, Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and served for many years as surgeon to the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at New York University Medical Center. He was a past President of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and a former Director and vice-chairman of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Dr. Rees and two other surgeons, Dr. Archibald McIndoe and Dr. Michael Wood, had an inspired idea: to bring urgently needed clinical and surgical care to the people in East Africa's most remote and underserved regions. Their plan was to utilize small aircraft and radios to reach these inaccessible areas - and thus the Flying Doctors of East Africa was born in 1957. This initial plan expanded over the years to include health education, training, and public health programs for a wide spectrum of health challenges in remote areas of Africa, as well as urban slums. Today, that vision is AMREF, (the African Medical & Research Foundation), the largest African-led health development organization, working in more than 30 African countries. In the United States, Dr. Rees continued what would be a life-long commitment to Africa and its people. He worked tirelessly for AMREF and the continent in many ways: serving as the Chair of the Board of the US affiliate of AMREF, fundraising and by promoting AMREF's work at every opportunity. Almost every year, Dr. Rees and his wife Nan travelled back to the continent, because they cared so passionately about the African people. Dr. Rees' dedication and enthusiasm were contagious. We are terribly saddened by his passing and extend our deep condolences to his children Liz, a board member of AMREF USA, his son Thomas, Jr and his entire family.
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Published in The New York Times on Nov. 23, 2013