Likely his most well-known patient, Jimmy Fallon, thanked Dr. Anup Patel with a shout out on ‘The Tonight Show’ for treating a wedding-ring related hand injury that included 10 days in the intensive care unit. (That’s a whole other story.) Dr. Anup Patel was one of the doctors who helped make sure Fallon could regain the use of his finger.
As a leading plastic and hand surgeon, the Orlando business owner helps his patients with issues ranging from cosmetic procedures to life-changing operations that restore form and function.
Anup, who was class valedictorian at both Lake Highland Prep and the University of Florida, earned a joint medical and master of business administration degree at Yale. Still not impressed? He is the founding surgeon of Orlando Plastic Surgery Institute and also practices at Orlando Hand Surgery Associates.
Patel says he learned about persistence by watching his immigrant parents operate an 18-room Orlando motel where he and his sister also lived.
“I got to watch my mom work really hard, whether it was renting rooms or cleaning the rooms. There’s no ‘off,’ there’s no such thing as a weekend,” he said.
His parents emigrated from the cities of Baroda and Mumbai, India. As a young person, Patel spent many summers visiting his family in India, where he was able to witness the effects of human trafficking in India’s red-light districts.
Inspired to shed light on the issue, Patel and his wife, Rina, started the non-profit Cents of Relief.
“It’s a chance to give back to the country where my folks came from. That’s the ultimate American dream: You come here, you use the resources that we get to try to help others in our community get better, whether it’s in America or in the other countries,” Patel said.
[infobox_default_shortcode header=”Foreign-educated doctors” img=”” color=”142, 201, 200, 0.1″]While Anup studied in the U.S., there are more than 247,000 doctors with medical degrees from foreign countries practicing in the United States. That’s slightly more than one-quarter of all doctors.[/infobox_default_shortcode]
In the early days of the nonprofit, they organized their network and held bake sales to raise money to send back to the center in India where Anup had worked.
The idea that even a little pocket change could make a difference on the other side of the world inspired them to launch a penny-per-click website. It was filled with ads, which generated a few cents per click and is where the organization got its name: Cents of Relief.
Today, through fundraisers, the organization supports three programs:
- RX Healthy Solutions: Workshops that educate women and children on basic hygiene, HIV/AIDS prevention, and gives victims regular access to licensed physicians.
- Comic Relief: A program that works with high-risk children on preventing and treating burns through comic books.
- Crafting Change: With partners in India, the nonprofit provides training and development on how to make handcrafted gifts.
“Human trafficking is not going to change overnight, but bit by bit, if everybody does their part of something, it can catch fire and make huge impacts throughout the world,” Patel said.
Anup credits his success as a surgeon in the U.S. for his ability to be able to financially help people in his parents’ home country.
You can help Cents of Relief further its impact by donating, volunteering or signing up for its newsletter.