Stefanos Tsallas (MSc Surgical Science 2015) set himself a mountainous challenge after taking time away from his career in plastic surgery to volunteer for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Lesvos as part of the European migration crisis programme. We caught up with Stefanos ahead of his Kilimanjaro climb to find out more.
Tell us about your time at Imperial.
In class I focused on my particular specialism and I learned a lot about plastic surgery. Out of class, though, my real highlight was getting to work with fantastic people from all over the world and learning from their unique point of view. My course coordinator at the Hammersmith Hospital site was Dr Mohammed Aslam. He was a super knowledgeable MD and all around great guy; very humble and truly a great example for future medics.
My fondest memory of that year is probably one of the all-nighter movie marathons that took place at the union cinema in Beit Quad. My favourite place at Imperial was definitely the boat house in Putney embankment and I was a member of the IC Boat Club as well as the Surgical Society.
I met future colleagues and bosses while studying, and I’ve since worked in Charing Cross and Chelsea hospitals, both sites I visited as a student. One of my career highlights so far has been my time working as a plastic surgery registrar in Chelsea – the medicine there is truly top notch.
What are you doing now?
I’m currently taking a year off plastic surgery and I’m doing rural medicine in a mountainous region in Greece while I organise the Kilimanjaro climb. After four years of practice in the UK, I was ready for a change of pace. I’ve always wanted to join MSF and to help people going through what is, more often than not, the most difficult time in their lives. I joined and shortly afterwards found myself on the island of Lesvos, as part of the European migration crisis programme. In only 4 months working for MSF, I was hooked.
Tell us more about the climb…
I wanted to support MSF and to spread a message of solidarity and raise awareness for the humanitarian crisis taking place in the Mediterranean area since 2014. The climb itself is 5,895m (19,341 ft). I’ll be starting on 27 December and aiming to summit on New Year’s Day. All proceeds will go to MSF as I am fully funding the climb myself.
A typical day at the moment is work, train, train, train, sleep (swimming, free weights, running, hiking, cross fit, whatever I feel like that day) in preparation for the climb.
Please support if you can and spread the word! It’s a good cause and you can read more about it in the webpage.
What makes you proud to be an Imperial alumnus?
The global community and the great things I keep hearing they are up to.
How would you describe Imperial alumni in one word?
That certainly seems appropriate in your case! What are your plans for the future?
I want to finish my plastic surgery training and definitely do some more MSF work, ideally in their reconstructive – trauma surgery centre in Amman, Jordan.
Finally, do you have any advice for current students?
Some of the brightest young people in the world are your co-students, meet as many of them as you can, you will benefit from it.