One of the primary objectives of our Foundation is to contribute to the field of breast cancer research and surgery. A standout initiative is our annual financial support for the Stephen Kroll Fellowship, which offers exceptional opportunities for foreign surgeons to specialize further in microsurgery and breast reconstruction at the Department of Plastic Surgery at Ghent University Hospital. Thanks to our support, Mohamed Abdelrahman, a plastic surgeon from Sudan, was able to significantly enhance his expertise as a fellow under the mentorship of Professor Phillip Blondeel. You can read about his remarkable journey below.
Transforming a caged bird into a soaring eagle: Breast Reconstruction Fellowship at UZ Gent- Belgium
Mohamed Abdelrahman; MD
Stephen Kroll Fellow 01/10/2023 to 31/12/2023
"I am a plastic surgeon who has spent most of his training in an underdeveloped health setting in my home country, Sudan, a nation that has endured the longest internal conflict and civil war in Africa. I have pursued a challenging and exhaustive path to acquire training and skills. I have been granted the opportunity to be accepted into the prestigious Stephen Kroll Breast Reconstructive Fellowship at the Department of Plastic Surgery at UZ Ghent, from October to December 2023.
Fellowships are postgraduate training programs that serve to bridge training gaps and encourage the acquisition of new skills. The Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Ghent is renowned as the Mecca of Autologous Breast Reconstruction and serves as the final destination for the training journey of many breast reconstruction microsurgeons from around the world.
The training model primarily follows an apprenticeship approach, where fellows shadow different consultants, attendants, and supervisors, learning case by case. There are ample opportunities to discuss complex cases, stay abreast of up-to-date evidence, and explore various management options. Regular departmental meetings are held to discuss all cases. I have assisted in numerous operative theatre cases, including primary and secondary breast reconstructions, as well as aesthetic breast cases.
Everyone is willing to generously share knowledge and skills, which is ingrained in the department's legacy and passion. In addition to breast reconstruction, the department offers active and prominent services in transgender surgery, head and neck/maxillofacial surgery, and a well-equipped burns unit, ensuring there is hardly a dull moment.
Fellows are welcomed to attend outpatient clinics, and the staff is always willing to facilitate and explain different management and follow-up plans. A unique aspect of this fellowship is its international flavor, bringing together fellows and visitors from around the globe, creating a rich platform for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, fostering future collaborations, and building collegial friendships.
Professor Blondeel and his team have been excellent educators, helping me gain extensive knowledge and skills in a short period. I aspire to take this knowledge back home to benefit my people and country. I believe I have formed lifelong friendships with the department, providing a reliable source of support and guidance for challenging cases.
Ghent is a magnificent city with much to see and enjoy. I have felt its warmth after long days of hard work in the hospital, spending exciting weekends with friends and colleagues, enjoying the generosity of this special city. I would love to visit Ghent again and again.
I express my gratitude to Professor Blondeel and his team for making me feel like part of the team, and to the Beautiful After Breast Cancer Foundation for their generosity and support in sponsoring my training fellowship."