travel from U.S. academic programs to help establish
training programs for the Armenian surgeons.
A new era
Meanwhile, the Armenian team completed their
prescribed training in September 1991 with a commencement exercise attended by the leadership of the
Yale School of Medicine, the Yale-New Haven Hospital,
and the AGBU (see photos, page 15 and this page). We
selected Dr. Stamboltsyan to serve as chief of this plastic surgery team and to head the program in Armenia.
The team returned to Armenia and began their work
at the new PRSC in Yerevan.
The Soviet Union was experiencing a complete
transformation in the same time frame, resulting in
the dissolution of the USSR and the establishment
of independent republics, including the Republic of
Armenia in 1991. Planning and negotiations for implementation of these various programs commenced
with Dr. Aznauryan and was completed by Mihran
Nazaretian, MD, the Minister of Health of the new
Republic of Armenia. Armenia’s independence made
for more seamless progress and development of the
The AGBU continued its support, adding three
American members to the PRSC: a unit administra-
tor, a head nurse for the OR, and a head nurse for
the SICU. The ORs and SICU were equipped with
the latest anesthesia machines, physiological moni-
tors, and ventilators. A medical library was established
with the donation of English language textbooks and
subscriptions to various medical journals. Mary H.
McGrath, MD, MPH, FACS, a Past-Regent and Past
First Vice-President of the American College of Sur-
geons (ACS), was instrumental in securing approval
from the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation for
the use of the handbook, Plastic Surgery Essentials for
Plastic surgeons from several American academic
programs, many of whom are members of the ACS, the
American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS), and
the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
(ACAPS), traveled to Armenia to participate in this
program, including (all MD, FACS) Gregory Borah,
Julia Terzis, Mimis Cohen, Theodore Chaglassian, and
This program proved to be timely—as the various
Soviet states became independent republics, tensions
mounted and borders were closed. Soon thereafter,
fighting broke out between Russia and Georgia over
North Ossetia in Russia and South Ossetia in Georgia. This conflict led to numerous casualties.† When
the fighting ended, the President of the Republic of
Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, contacted the U.S. State
Department to inquire about sending some of the seriously injured patients to the U.S. for reconstructive
surgery. The U.S. State Department informed him
that this course of action was possible but suggested,
instead, that the casualties be treated in the neighboring Republic of Armenia, which already had an
American-trained plastic surgical team in place. The
transfer of these patients to Armenia was arranged,
and many civilian casualties were treated by the Armenian team.
In subsequent years, the team developed an academic
training program in plastic surgery at the Yerevan Medical Institute. The training program was established by
Dr. Stamboltsyan and two additional surgeons—Armen
Visit from the Armenian Ministry of Health to Yale in 1991. Drs. Stamboltsyan
(far left), Nazaretian (fourth from left), and Babloyan (far right).
†Brooke J. As centralized rule wanes, ethnic tension rises anew in Soviet Georgia. New York Times. October 2, 1991. Available at: www.nytimes.
anew-in-soviet-georgia.html?pagewanted=all. Accessed December 7, 2015.