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Saturday, December 31, 2005

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga., Sep 21, 2005 (U.S. Newswire via COMTEX) -- Peachtree City, Ga., resident and plane crash survivor Matthew Warmerdam is being honored with the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity award from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) at its Plastic Surgery 2004 scientific meeting in Chicago, Ill. Warmerdam is being recognized as an inspirational role model for others facing physical trauma.

Just five months out of flight school, Warmerdam was copilot on a commercial jet that crashed outside of Atlanta, Ga. after a propeller blade broke off and jammed into the engine. Warmerdam suffered life-threatening injuries, including second-, third- and fourth-degree burns on 55 percent of his body, requiring the partial amputation of his fingers. Initially, plastic surgeons at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn. performed 12 major reconstructive surgeries to save his life, including a tracheotomy, burn care operations, skin grafts and hand surgeries.

In spite of his injuries, Warmerdam was determined to fly again. After his initial care, Warmerdam had numerous secondary reconstructive procedures to restore mobility in his arms and hands. With his wife's support and five years of physical therapy, he learned how to fly again with reconstructed hands. Warmerdam fulfilled his dream and returned to the sky.

"It takes a highly motivated patient to tackle the obstacles facing most reconstructive patients," said ASPS President Scott Spear, MD. "The Patients of Courage stories are wonderful examples of how dedicated surgeons, by virtue of hard work and modern techniques, help patients conquer very difficult and challenging times in their life."

"Flying is what I wanted to do since I was a kid," said Warmerdam. "I wasn't going to let a bad turn of fate keep me from doing what I wanted to do. Even though I left on terms other than my own, I wasn't going to let that stop me from pursuing my dream."

"Matt has been a great inspiration to me. He refused to give up when he was told his goal to fly again was near impossible," stated Louis Carter, MD, of Chattanooga, Tenn. "Matt has taught me the lasting value of perseverance and endurance, the power of family and the importance of being thankful for each and every day of our lives."

For referrals to ASPS Member Surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, call 888-4-PLASTIC (475-2784) or visit to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive .

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

LaSandra Cooper or Brian Hugins,
847-228-9900 or

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