Fundraiser and UMass Memorial Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic patient Emily Keefner honored

Emily Keefner

American Society of Plastic Surgeons recognizes Patients of Courage

Posted: October 2013

Emily Keefner—a patient of the Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center—was honored recently by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) as a Patient of Courage. The award recognizes inspirational reconstructive plastic surgery patients who use their experiences, strength and determination to help others in need and give back to their communities through charitable work.

“Since 2003, the Patients of Courage program has grown in popularity, taught us great lessons about the human spirit, and given us all something to rally around year after year at our annual meeting,” said ASPS President Gregory Evans, MD. “This year’s honorees demonstrate extraordinary courage and commitment to improving the lives of others.”

Keefner and her fellow award recipients were recognized during a special panel titled, “Patients of Courage – Beyond the Surgery: A 10 Year Celebration,” at Plastic Surgery: The Meeting on October 12 in San Diego, Calif.

“This is a very prestigious award that is presented at our national meeting in front of several thousand plastic surgeons,” said Raymond M. Dunn, MD, chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery and professor of surgery and cell & developmental biology at UMass Medical School. “It was a wonderful recognition for Emily and her efforts to raise money as well as awareness about the great work being done at our Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic.”

Keefner, who is 18 years old, was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate deformity and has undergone more than 30 surgeries at the Craniofacial Clinic to help correct it. Out of gratitude for the life-altering care she received, Emily wanted to make a lasting difference for the Clinic by raising money for a new patient database system. Developed and utilized at Shriner’s Hospital in Springfield, Mass., the system, which costs an estimated $50,000, manages patient data used for treatment planning, care coordination, outcomes analysis, epidemiology studies, strategic planning and, potentially, research.

Emily’s fundraising efforts began in June 2012 with a spaghetti dinner in her hometown of Canaan, N.Y., that raised more than $3,000. Events since then have included a golf tournament, fall festival and a charity motorcycle ride, among others.

“Giving something back makes me feel so empowered,” said Keefner in a video shown during the award presentation. “Everything I’m trying to do now I hope will help improve care for craniofacial birth defects.”

“What impresses me about Emily is her ability to fight for the best possible outcome and her genuine desire to make a difference in the world in spite of the cards she’s been dealt,” said Janice F. Lalikos, MD, director of the Clinic, who has cared for Emily since 2002 and who nominated her for the ASPS award. “I don’t think Emily and her family will stop until she sees her own patient data sheet emerge from the software.”

More information about the Craniofacial Anomalies Clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center can be found online at

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