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Case Report

Elizabeth Croll: ASPS Patient of Courage 2016

Gosain, Arun K. MD

Author Information
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open: July 2017 - Volume 5 - Issue 7 - p e1415
doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000001415

Abstract

It is an honor for me to outline the background and contributions of Mrs. Elizabeth Croll, who was selected as an ASPS Patient of Courage in 2016. Her story is a true inspiration to plastic surgeons, as well as a role model for patients by converting unforeseen tragedy into betterment of the community. After a tragic accident in which she suffered severe maxillofacial trauma in 1997, she has undergone multiple reconstructive surgical procedures. She has been courageous throughout the process as she rebuilds her face and demonstrates an unwavering commitment to her career, her community, and access to medical care for indigent children (see video, Supplemental Digital Content, which presents the story of the patient. This video is available in the “Related Videos” section of the Full-Text article on PRSGlobalOpen.com or available at https://links.lww.com/PRSGO/A481).

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Video Graphic 1.:
See video, Supplemental Digital Content 1, which presents the story of the patient. This video is available in the “Related Videos” section of the Full-Text article on PRSGlobalOpen.com or available at https://links.lww.com/PRSGO/A481.

At age 28, Elizabeth received her MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1997 (Fig. 1). One month later, just before beginning her new job post-MBA, she was struck by an oncoming boat and suffered severe facial trauma, resulting in an open skull injury with loss of her right eye, accompanied by periorbital bone loss, maxillary fractures, and significant facial lacerations. Elizabeth’s initial surgery consisted of tracheotomy for airway management, right orbital enucleation, stabilization of the facial fractures, and cranioplasty to cover the exposed brain. During the next 3 years, she underwent an additional 7 surgical procedures, including placement of a right orbital prosthesis. However, Elizabeth never lost her ambition for career development and her desire to give back to her community, even during this hectic period of surgical reconstruction. Two months following her injury, Elizabeth joined Danaher Corporation full time in September of 1997 to launch a career in general management. She received multiple promotions at work, starting initially as a Marketing Manager, then as a Business Unit and Focused Factory Manager, followed by Director of Business Development and finally as Director of Customer and Field Service for a division of the company in Cleveland. However, her ability to juggle surgical corrections and career development never abated her desire to contribute to her community. Her college classmates recognized these qualities, and even during the period of initial reconstruction she was elected president of her Wellesley College class, and served in this capacity for 5 years. In 2001, Elizabeth relocated to Cleveland, after which time she served as Treasurer of the Cleveland Wellesley Club while still maintaining her position as president of the Class of 1991. Elizabeth also became involved with the Harvard Business School Club of Northeastern Ohio, and she joined the Community Partners Committee in which she volunteered in local schools and helped foster the club’s outreach efforts to the local community. Elizabeth realized how much she enjoyed contributing to young people, and she also served as a volunteer for Youth Opportunities Unlimited to provide mentoring and guidance to disadvantaged youth.

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Fig. 1.:
Photograph of Elizabeth Croll in 1997 at the time of graduation from Harvard Business School.

Despite her relative success in community and business endeavors, Elizabeth was plagued with ongoing deterioration of the tissues around her right eye with ulceration and extrusion of the prosthetic materials that had been placed over 10 years earlier (Fig. 2). She began a series of secondary facial reconstructive procedures under the care of Drs. Arun Gosain and Bahman Guyuron at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Medical Center. From 2011 to 2014, she underwent 10 reconstructive surgeries to rebuild and repair the right upper quadrant of her face, including removal of all of the prosthetic material that had initially been placed around the right eye socket, followed by rebuilding and repositioning of her native facial bones into the correct anatomic location. While undergoing this subsequent round of reconstructive surgeries, Elizabeth never lost her zeal for business and community development. In 2003, she joined Deloitte Consulting LLP and continued to work full time as a management consultant. She also maintained her involvement with the Harvard Business School Club of Northeast Ohio, serving as Vice President of Membership and Marketing from 2012 to 2014, President from 2014 to 2015, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2016. During her tenure with the club, she also served on the Dively Entrepreneurial Award Committee and the Leadership Award Committee and joined the club’s Philanthropy and Community Partners Committees in 2015.

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Fig. 2.:
Photograph of Elizabeth Croll in 2011, 14 years after accident with progressive deterioration and displacement of soft tissues around right eye socket. She underwent a second set of reconstructive procedures for correction from 2011 to 2016.

While receiving care and treatment at University Hospitals of Cleveland I came to appreciate the unique abilities that enabled Elizabeth to make so many ongoing contributions to the community, despite the time demands of her work and medical care. The families I had worked with at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital were developing a foundation to help underprivileged children who had suffered from trauma or birth defects. The purpose of the foundation was not only to insure that afflicted children receive proper medical care but also to help them to regain their sense of self-worth within the community through camp opportunities and scholarships that would last well beyond their childhood years. Elizabeth had lived through similar experiences, and she was the perfect role model to demonstrate to children with traumatic and birth defects that not only could they be successful in society, but they could also give back to that society in a manner that other children may never achieve. I introduced Elizabeth to the parents of affected children who wished to develop this foundation, and Elizabeth was quickly initiated as a founding member of the Save a Smile, Save a Child Foundation (Fig. 3). Since 2011, the Foundation has hosted an inaugural benefit that has raised over $500,000 for the children it serves. Elizabeth has since become an active member of Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital Circle of Friends and has also regularly supported Smile Train in its mission to expand international cleft care. On a personal level, Elizabeth has amply volunteered her time to help my own family members to assemble their business resume’, or to offer her personal advice and support as they sought to launch their careers. In summary, I can think of no more deserving patient than Elizabeth Croll to have received recognition as an ASPS Patient of Courage. In my 25 years of active practice, I have not known another patient who has done so much to convert an unforeseen tragedy into an asset that continues to benefit our medical communities.

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Fig. 3.:
Members of the Save a Smile, Save a Child Foundation and their children in 2016. Back row (left to right): Barbara Marlowe, Teeba Farat, Meredith Farrow, Antoinette Caponi, Elizabeth Croll, April Adams. Front row (left to right): Presley Farrow, Matteo Caponi.

PATIENT CONSENT

The patient provided written consent for the use of her image.

Supplemental Digital Content

Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.