Dr. Donald Roland will receive the Brooklyn Bridge Rotary Club’s Humanitarian Award, in recognition of his charitable work with the children of Haiti.
In 2008, Dr. Roland, a plastic surgeon, along with his wife Fatima, organized the not-for-profit Vanity 4 Humanity to address the reconstructive needs of the underserved people of the Dominican Republic, Fatima’s native country.
They were awestruck by the experience of their maiden surgical mission in 2009. Then, in 2010, when a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, they were quick to react.
On the sixth day after the quake, Dr. Roland was in Haiti, alone, searching for a means to provide assistance. He found a small field hospital opened in response to the quake and began working on saving limbs from amputation.
Vanity 4 Humanity back home then organized an operative schedule, transportation, and lodging for New York plastic surgeons to take shifts of four to five days doing this sort of work, saving hundreds of patients from infection and amputations.
Four years after the quake, Vanity 4 Humanity continues iyd surgical missions to Haiti and the Dominican Republic — twice annually — performing burn surgery, breast reconstruction and scar revision surgery. The charity teamed up with two orphanages in the north of Haiti where they help sponsor numerous children. Funding for the charity is by Dr. Roland’s patients, colleagues, and friends at the charity’s annual white party fundraiser.
In 2012 Vanity 4 Humanity bought three acres of fertile Haitian land so the orphanage could grow its own food and teach farming principles to the orphans.
Dr. Roland was born and raised in Westchester county, in a largely blue-collared family where hard work and determination were emphasized as the means to success and happiness. After attending undergraduate university in Washington D.C. he returned to New York to study medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. Upon finishing his Plastic Surgery residency and microsurgical fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center, he began building his reconstructive practice.
His most notable patient was Morris, a young man from the projects who sustained a gunshot wound to the face. Dr. Roland performed numerous surgeries on Morris to recreate his lost nose, jawbone, cheeks and lips over several years at the Jacobi Trauma Center in the Bronx.
Dr. Roland resides in Manhattan’s Financial District with Fatima and their two children, Remy and Hudson.