Congratulations to Andrea Moreira, MD, for being the recipient of “Heroes in Medicine” honors from Physician’s Weekly. Dr. Moreira, a board-certified plastic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, focuses much of her work on plastic surgery that involves pediatric craniofacial deformities and breast surgery.

She pursued her medical degree at University of Para Medical School, Brazil and graduated in 1993. She then completed her general surgery and plastic surgery at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2000. Dr. Moreira was board certified by the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery, but then decided to complete her full residency training in the United States in order to obtain the American Board Certification.

Dr. Moreira decided to continue with her training and underwent a craniofacial fellowship in Michigan, followed by a plastic surgery research fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. During this time, she received many awards due to her outstanding research, including the Grand Prize Scholarship Award through the International College of Surgeons and the Alexander Waltz Award through the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Moreira officially joined the plastic surgery staff at the Cleveland Clinic in 2011, specializing in breast augmentation and reconstruction.

In 2010, Dr. Moreira joined James A. Lehman, MD—a plastic surgeon currently practicing in the Summa Health System—and others for a mission trip to Chile in which the goal was to treat disadvantaged individuals for a variety of plastic surgery reconstructive problems. Her first trip was to perform craniofacial reconstructions surgeries.

“During my first trip, I saw firsthand out that many low-income women with breast cancer were not getting reconstruction surgery because the procedure was either too expensive or the treatment was never offered,” says Dr. Moreira. “I saw this as an opportunity to care for an underserved group of women.”

As a result of her passion about addressing the issue, Dr. Moreira joined the rotary team responsible for the trip and the surgeons in Chile in an effort to make breast reconstruction procedures more accessible to this geographic region. About 1 year late, Dr. Moreira and her mission trip team began performing breast reconstruction surgeries on patients in Chile.

“Our team brings donated supplies and works closely with plastic surgeons in Chile so that they can learn and apply the same techniques we use in the United States,” Dr. Moreira says. “Nurses, anesthesiologists, and other specialists have also started joining us on these trips. The program has become so successful that several women in Chile are on a waiting list to have the surgery done. In fact, some patients travel up to 1,000 km by bus to have the surgery.”

Dr. Moreira says her team’s efforts have had a profound impact on women suffering from these conditions. “It’s rewarding to see the healthcare of women improve in a part of the world in which many people are underserved,” she says.