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Dr. Robert Rey’s Thanksgiving Thought:

Thankful…for My Entire Life! Staff Report

Robert Rey, M.D., a plastic surgeon seen in the reality program, “Dr. 90210” (viewed in 173 of the world’s 193 nations) says he is really thankful. At a time when many mark Thanksgiving by counting their blessings, Dr. Rey says, except for an act of pure grace, he would today very likely be in a Brazilian jail, or worse. The doctor is so thankful, he spends time returning his many blessings with his surgical skills and, someday, may even go back to his homeland to spend all his time repaying what he says is a huge debt.

Dr. Robert Rey’s Thanksgiving Thought

Robert Rey, M.D.

Until he was eleven years old, Robert Rey had never slept in a bed. Because he lived in poverty in a totally dysfunctional home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the young Robert would push aside plates and cups and crawl up onto a rickety, wooden table every night when it was bedtime. During the daylight hours, his time wasn’t spent under much better circumstances – Robert ran wild in the streets with a gang of tough kids, rousting about, committing petty crimes and generally being a minor nuisance headed for big trouble. He says his childhood home was a shack in a grimy industrial area of the city.

“South American men can be either very involved with their families or they can go the other route and have nothing at all to do with their wives and children,” Dr. Rey told CosmeticSurgery.Com. “My father was like that. He had girlfriends and came home once in a while, usually drunk. He had absolutely nothing to do with his four children and beat my mother.”

Hearty Work Ethic

Fortunately, Dr. Rey’s mother was tireless in providing some income and making sure the children stayed active in church. Because she would take almost any job, she instilled a hearty work ethic in her offspring.

Nonetheless, the family was so dysfunctional, and the children so unruly, they attracted the attention of U.S. missionaries who were shocked at what they saw and soon buttonholed the senior Rey. The upshot? The missionaries offered to take the four, wild Rey kids to the U.S. where the children would have a far better life. The father thought about it for a full second, agreed and was off to a nearby bar.

Over the years, Dr. Rey kept in touch with some mutual friends who kept in touch with the street gang with whom Robert used to run. Results? Although they are all about the same age – the mid-40s – about half of Robert's former chums are dead as a result of police gunfire or organized crime violence.

“The way we children had been living, we could have easily done some damage or hurt somebody,” Dr. Rey says. “By all logic, I should have been in a Brazilian jail by this point in my life.

“For instance, my last act on my native soil was robbing a grocery store on the way to the boat,” he says. “My gang and I just ran in, grabbed all we could and ran out. My siblings and I sailed away from what promised to be a life of crime and poverty on a cargo ship carrying bananas to New York. The first time I saw the Statue of Liberty, I still considered myself a pretty tough kid but I remember being filled with overwhelming emotion and shedding some tears nonetheless.”

When Robert arrived at the home in Utah where he would live during his teen years, he found he was still receiving simple acts of grace. His host family moved their children out of their rooms and moved the Rey kids in. The host children thereafter slept on sofas – without a murmur of pubescent complaint during the next half decade.

Giving Nature

Dr. Robert Rey’s Thanksgiving Thought “My host family was very religious and also extremely cultured,” recalls Dr. Rey. “They introduced us to the theater, good literature, music and art. Even as a 12-year-old, it became clear to me these people were investing a lot in me without any expectation of what they might get back. So I was very impressed by their giving nature.”

Fortunately, for the Rey children, the love of theater, reading and the arts stuck fast. They all got top grades in school and landed scholarships after high school. After receiving his M.D., the newly minted Doctor Rey went on to a Harvard Medical School fellowship in plastic surgery, making it through with top honors, although he took out $200,000 in loans and got some help from his mother who had left Brazil and worked as a janitor to provide a little pen money.

After about twelve years of advanced surgical training, Dr. Rey piled everything he owned in the back of a beat-up Mustang and headed for Beverly Hills.

“The good Lord has always blessed me so as soon as I got to California, I became very busy,” Dr. Rey says.

It wasn’t long before the classically handsome Dr. Rey was being filmed for Discovery Channel specials about plastic and cosmetic surgery. And then in 2004, he allowed television cameras to follow him from the operating room into his personal life with wife Haley and their two toddlers. Even though he was working in Beverly Hills, he came across many people who needed – but could not afford – medical help.

“I’m always impressed by people who give back,” says Dr. Rey. “Because I watched it while I was growing up and because I myself have been given so much, giving back seems like the natural thing to do, especially for somebody who has been blessed with such special training and experience.”

Consequently, Dr. Rey often performs plastic surgery on a person who could not otherwise afford it.

Heart Rending Letter

‘In thirty or forty years, when I stand before my creator, and He asks how I served mankind during my time on earth, I want to have something to say,” says Dr. Rey. “He is probably going to say ‘I gave you the opportunity and the skills, so what did you give back in return?’”

So Dr. Rey ensures the acts of grace that took him to a new life continue cascading down the generations. For instance, in Dr. 90210’s second season, viewers are shown Dr. Rey reading a heart-rending letter from a woman who has a 15 year-old daughter with 38 Triple D breasts. The daughter desperately needs a breast reduction which Dr. Rey provides without charge. In another case, a low-income woman with severely deformed breasts is selected for a corrective procedure.

Additionally, Dr. Rey donates his skills to the Thousand Smile Foundation of Mexico, repairing cleft lips, burn scars and other necessary repairs on impoverished Mexicans and on native peoples in Brazil.

Moreover, with a background as a trauma and general surgeon, the popular surgeon has been trained to do much more than the seven plastic surgery procedures he performs daily in his Beverly Hills office.

“I can treat patients who have been shot as well as those who want their eyebrows lifted,” he says.

“When I retire, I would like to go back to Brazil – they at least gave me a good set of genes and a mind that can absorb a lot of information – and donate my services to those who can’t afford the help.

“All men eventually come back to their roots.”

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