Dr. Don Lalonde – Important Professional Achievements

Most Important Professional Achievements

1) Volunteer Surgery in Developing Countries

Dr. Lalonde has given an average of 4 weeks of volunteer surgery time every year since 1996 to correct congenital malformations such as cleft lip, cleft palate, burn deformities, and congenital hand deformities. He has operated on over 500 children over those years that would likely never have had corrective surgery as their parents could not have afforded it. This was more of a pleasure than it was work for Dr Lalonde. It was like handing out a winning lottery ticket to every parent whose child now had a chance to live and speak normally after a cleft lip or palate repair. The gratitude of those parents is worth far more than gold.

On most of the volunteer plastic surgery trips, he has also had educational exchanges with volunteer Plastic surgeons from those countries as well, working on the local children with them. Both Dr Lalonde and the local surgeons benefited from the experiences, as well as the patients in both their countries.

Dr Lalonde has operated on children in China, India, Thailand, Viet Nam, Philippines, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Jordan, Lebanon and of course, Canada.

In the fall of 2007, Dr Lalonde was invited as the guest lecturer for the Lindsay-Thompson Symposium in Pediatric Plastic Surgery to the Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital to share what he had leaned through those experiences. His lecture was entitled The 7 Most Important Lessons I Have Learned In Cleft Lip Repair While Watching and Performing the Operation in 22 missions in 16 Countries from 1996 To 2007. The year prior to this, he was invited to the children’s Hospital in Vancouver for a similar lecture.

2) Mutual recognition of Training in Plastic Surgery between Canada (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada) and the United States 2007

Before 2007, Canadians who trained in Plastic Surgery in Canada were not allowed to sit for the American Board of Plastic Surgery examinations as Canadian training was not recognized, in spite of the fact that it was easily as good as its American counterpart. This created many barriers for Canadians such as Canadian Plastic surgery residents trying to get post graduate training or operative experience in the USA.

In 2007, Dr Lalonde organized and chaired a historic all day meeting between top level officials (5 from the USA, and 20 from Canada) of the ACGME, RCPSC, ABPS, and the Canadian Plastic Surgery community in Quebec City in May of 2007. This took over 4 years to organize. The meeting was successful, and in the fall of 2007, mutual recognition of training between the RCPSC and the APBS was a reality. Canadian training is now the only foreign training in Plastic Surgery that is recognized by the ABPS.

This has been a major step for Canadian Plastic Surgeons as this was a huge wall which has been taken down, and almost every Plastic Surgeon in Canada is aware of it and recognizes this as a major achievement by the Canadian Plastic surgery community.

3) Chairman of the successful bidding committee that obtained the IPRAS meeting for Vancouver for May of 2011

In the world of Plastic Surgery, every 4 years there is a major international meeting of IPRAS (International Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Society). The bidding and competition to get this meeting in one’s home country is very similar in complexity and difficulty as getting the International Olympic Games (although it never hits the media).

After 4 years of hard work and international lobbying, The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons with Dr Lalonde as its president and as Chairman of the IPRAS Vancouver 2011 organizing committee was successful in winning the bid in Berlin in June of 2007.

4) Director of the ABPS (American Board of Plastic Surgeons)

Dr Lalonde was one of 3 people elected to the American Board of Plastic Surgery for a 6 year term in 2005. He is only the third Canadian in history to achieve this highest achievement in the world of Plastic surgery in the U.S.A. The equivalent in the legal arena would be the Supreme Court. Among other functions, the ABPS recognizes training and administers the examinations that certify and maintain certification for American Plastic Surgeons.

His achievements as a director have been significant, but listing them all in this document would not be appropriate. The only one that will be mentioned is that Dr Lalonde is currently chairman of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) committee of the ABPS which is responsible for examination and recognition of professionalism and continuing education which is required every 10 years to maintain certification by ABPS certified Plastic Surgeons.

5) Spearheading Wide Awake Hand Surgery

Wide awake hand surgery is hand surgery without sedation, without a tourniquet, and without general anesthesia. Almost 95% of all hand surgery can be done this way, and is now done this way by some surgeons in all of the major cities in Canada, and in some other major cities in the rest of the world. Patients who have hand surgery now can simply sit up and go home like after going to the dentist. They no longer need general anesthesia and hospitalization, with all of the generated risks, expenses and inconveniences. In addition, many operations in hand surgery have been greatly improved by using this technique, as the comfortable wide awake patient can move reconstructed structures such as tendons and joints while the surgeon is observing those structures and he can still make adjustments to the repair of these tissues before he finishes the operation by closing the skin.

In spite of this advance, there is still a lot of work to do to get the whole planet taking advantage of this great advance in hand surgery. Although Wide Awake hand surgery is very advanced in Canada where this technique has been developed, more than 95% of the hand surgery in the USA is still performed under general anesthesia.

Although Dr. Lalonde was not the first Canadian to perform this clearly Canadian innovation in hand surgery, he has spearheaded the effort to popularize this technique in Canada and in the rest of the world by writing and publishing more than 12 scientific articles on the subject in major hand and Plastic Surgery journals, by lecturing widely on the subject at major meetings in several countries such as Berlin, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Ecuador, and at at least 10 major meeting in the USA. In addition, he has promoted wide awake hand surgery as a visiting professor in 15 Plastic Surgery training programs in Canada and the United States since 2002.

6) Section Editor for the Journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

The most prestigious Plastic Surgery journal in the world by far is the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery. Its editorial board consists of 24 editors, 7 section editors, and the editor in Chief. Although there have been approximately 10 Canadians who have been editors throughout the Journal’s 60 year history, Dr Lalonde is the only Canadian who has achieved to attain the position of section editor. He is currently the section editor for Continuing Medical Education and Maintenance of Certification, and sits on the management committee for the journal. Dr Lalonde is also on the Editorial Board of the journal Hand, and has been a reviewer for the British Journal of Plastic Surgery for years.

7) Chairman of the Plastic Surgery Specialty of the RCPSC

The Royal College designates this person as the one who “looks after Plastic Surgery in Canada”. This is a 6 year commitment that Dr Lalonde filled from 2004-2010.

This committee is made up of the 10 program chairmen of the 10 universities that train Plastic Surgeons in Canada, as well as a nucleus committee that is responsible for training requirements and accreditation of the training programs. This role also has Dr Lalonde selecting with the chair of the examination committee the Plastic Surgeons who serve as examiners for Plastic Surgery accreditation in Canada. The committee is responsible for setting the standards of Plastic surgery education in Canada, amongst many other functions.
One of the important achievements of Dr Lalonde in this role was to address the current manpower crisis in Canadian Plastic Surgery. There are not nearly enough Canadian plastic surgeons to deal with hand surgery, congenital deformities, burns, cancer reconstruction, wound reconstruction and other reconstructive aspects of our specialty. As a result of Dr Lalonde’s publishing a paper on the Canadian Plastic Surgery manpower crisis in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2007, as well as his lobbying program directors, provincial governments, and post graduate deans, the number of Canadian Plastic surgeons in training has increased by at least 50% over the last 3 years.

8) President of the CSPS (Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons)

Dr Lalonde was president of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons in 2006-07. His main achievements on the board and as president included: 1) Major restructuring of the Scientific program of the yearly scientific meeting of the CSPS which has improved the quality of the meeting, and 2) Major restructuring of the CSPS website.

9) Research and publications

In addition to the publications in the advancement of many hand operations with wide awake hand surgery, Dr Lalonde has published papers and advanced Plastic Surgery in the areas of eyelid reconstruction, Zygoma fracture reduction, pilonidal sinus reconstruction, post cardiac surgery chest wound reconstruction, cleft lip repair, speech after cleft palate repair, vascularized bone grafting, and breast reduction surgery.. He has published 47 scientific papers in Peer reviewed journals and 4 chapters in textbooks.

Dr Lalonde has written many of these papers with Dalhousie Plastic Surgery residents being first authors in at least 20 of them. This is part of mentoring young Plastic Surgeons in the art and science of writing Plastic Surgery papers and advancing the specialty.

9) RCPSC evaluation committee (2001-2008)

Dr Lalonde has played an important role in the evolution and improvement of all examinations in all medical specialties of the RCPSC as a member of the RCPSC Evaluation Committee. This committee is made up of examination specialists who examine all of the reports of all RCPSC examinations every year. Part of his role in this committee was to make positive changes in many of the examinations by personally contacting and talking to many chairs of examination boards over the years (Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, and Anesthesia to mention only 3 of the specialties Dr Lalonde was involved with).

Dr Lalonde also spearheaded changing the whole computer system at the RCPSC with a number of meetings and a formal presentation to the whole council of the RCPSC in 2004.

10) Chairman of the RCPSC Plastic Surgery examination Board 2002-2004

In addition to examining Americans for certification in Plastic Surgery for the American Board of Plastic Surgery from 1999 to the present, Dr Lalonde has also made major changes in Canadian Plastic surgery Certification examinations.

He examined in Canada from 1996 to 2004, being vice chair and then chair of that examination group for the last 6 of those years. Chair of an Examination board for the RCPSC is one of the highest academic responsibilities in any medical specialty in Canada. In those 6 years, many positive changes were made to the Plastic Surgery examinations with the result of much greater standardization and improvement in validity and reliability in examinations for the certification of Canadian Plastic Surgeons.

In addition Dr Lalonde chaired the group that created the short answer bank of written examination questions for Plastic Surgery examinations of the RCPSC in 1998 – 2000. As part of this process, he personally spoke to 234 Plastic Surgeons in Canada and the USA to try to convince them to write questions for this endeavor, and personally reviewed and edited over 600 of the questions.

11) Teacher

In 1998, Dr Lalonde was awarded the outstanding teacher of the year by the maritimes Association of Interns and Residents. He has taught at least 40 young people who are now practicing Plastic Surgeons. Many of them continue to be in contact regularly for advice with difficult cases in their practices.

He has managed to get 10 world famous Plastic surgeons, one per year for the last 10 years, come and speak for a whole day in Saint John to the Dalhousie Plastic Surgery residents and the Atlantic Plastic Surgeons of the 4 provinces.

12) Surgical Instrument Design

Dr Lalonde has designed 4 varieties of surgical instruments for surgery of the skin, breast, bone and tendon. Many thousands of these instruments are used by Plastic Surgeons throughout the world.