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Dr. Lawrence Fallat: ‘You have to help these children’

When Dr. Lawrence Fallat goes on mission trips, he always comes back with memories. But after one mission trip to Nigeria, he came back with more: A 10-year-old orphan, saving him from what Dr. Fallat described as a death sentence.

“I couldn't leave him there,” Dr. Fallat said. “He had no parents ... What I did is what anybody else would have done.”

Dr. Fallat brought the child back to the U.S. to undergo clubfoot surgery. He was adopted by his foster parents and now, “he's doing great. His life has changed around completely,” Dr. Fallat said.

The doctor of podiatric medicine has been practicing for more than 40 years. He has affiliations at Corewell Health Beaumont Hospitals in Taylor and Dearborn and is the director of Wayne’s Podiatric Surgery Residency.

Dr. Fallat grew up in Taylor where his dad worked at a steel mill. No one in his family had gone to college, let alone medical school. Everyone told him his dream to become a doctor was unattainable. Even his high school advisor told him he was wasting his time, and he should work at a factory.

He persevered, however, and earned his undergraduate degree at Eastern Michigan University, went to Illinois College of Podiatric Medicine and completed his residency in Colorado. After his residency, he completed a trauma fellowship in Germany where he had previously served in the United States Army.

And this same man, who was told to give up on medical school dreams, has published just over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and now teaches future doctors at Wayne.

He’s also impacted hundreds of lives in Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nigeria on mission trips. When he was asked to go on his first mission trip to help kids with physical disabilities, he thought it would be interesting, but he didn’t appreciate the gravity of being able to change their lives.

He said he can help these kids walk again, and to not use this ability would be a travesty.

You have to help these children,” Dr. Fallat said.

He said to have a physical disability in a developing nation is “a death sentence,” and it’s almost impossible to survive in a place where living can already be challenging.

So, he goes on these mission trips, which he finances himself, and spends 12-14 hours each day performing life-changing surgeries. He estimates he’s helped 300 children have better lives, but that’s not enough. He feels he needs to go back and do more.

“How do you turn your back on that? How do you keep from going back?” Dr. Fallat asked. “It's a life-changing experience.”

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