About Dr. Toni Zhong
Dr. Toni Zhong is a staff surgeon at the Toronto General Hospital, Assistant Professor with the Department of Surgery, and winner of many international research and young investigator awards. Her work extends to all forms of post-cancer treatment breast reconstruction and the evaluation of patient health-related quality of life.
Dr. Toni Zhong is a dedicated member of the Women For Women (WFW) program, recently participating in their second surgical mission. The WFW consists of an international core group of socially conscious female plastic surgeon, and aims to “help women suffering from physical injuries as a result of domestic abuse, war, or other socio-cultural reasons in third-world countries.”
Since 2008, Emirates Airlines has provided the Emirates Floating Hotel (EFH) with a generous donation and sustainable funding to provide essential services and medical care to the Chilmari residents. In April 2011, the Women For Women (WFW), supported by the International Confederation for Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS), held its 9th mission in Chilmari, Bangladesh. A highly marginalized and impoverished region, Chilmari is a frequent victim of natural disasters, and access to basic services is limited due to the nomadic nature of the inhabitants.
In 2011, Friendship and WFW collaborated to provide a surgical mission. Friendship, a value-based Bangladeshi organization, delivers both primary and secondary healthcare to inaccessible areas of the country via the EFH along the Bahmaputra River.
The results of ethnic, societal, marital, and other domestic dispute issues, women in Chilmari often suffer from disfiguring physical injuries that are compounded by inadequate prevention and treatments. The most common crime of female domestic violence committed is acid burning. Affected women will often withdraw from society to hide their disfigurements and spend the rest of their lives experiencing social shaming, in addition to the severe physical pain, infections, and possible impairments.
In 2011, Dr. Zhong and her team performed approximately 45 procedures in 32 patients, ranging from 2 to 70 years of age. The most commonly performed procedure was burn contracture release and reconstruction using full thickness skin grafts. One notable case included severe burns to the hands, neck, and face of a 22-year old girl after her mother and sister-in-law set fire to her wedding veil over a dowry dispute.
WFW intends to strengthen its loco-regional presence in assisting marginalized female patients who have nowhere else to turn. With the support of local organizations such as Friendship, and continued funding from Emirates Airlines and other sponsors, Dr. Toni Zhong and her WFW team strive to establish sustainability through education, prevention, treatment, and social re-integration of female victims of burn injuries.