about US

 

Breast Implant Safety Alliance (BISA Nonprofit) is a 501(c)(3) organization created by women. The mission of BISA Nonprofit is to raise awareness, optimize outcomes and ensure informed consent for patients considering breast implant surgery. BISA Nonprofit empowers patients and works collaboratively with all stakeholders including healthcare providers, regulators and legislators, to support systems of education and accountability that promote patient safety. 

Board of Directors

Maria Gmitro, BCPA
President + Cofounder

 

Sarah Beckcom
Vice President

Michele Al-Ghetta
Secretary

 

Sarah Carlin, Treasurer 

Laura Willging, Board Member

Michael Gmitro, Board Member
 

Advisory Council

Danielle Valoras, Medical Consultant

Holly Ennis, Legal Consultant
 

Advocate Council

Andrea Ottaiano
Tori Wilt

International Advocate Council

Julie Elliott, Canada

Volunteers
Leah Milne

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Maria Gmitro, BISA Nonprofit President + Cofounder
Maria Gmitro holds a Master's Degree in Instructional/Educational Technology from the University of Central Florida and is the Director of Community Outreach & Patient Advocacy for TrackMy Solutions, a medical device tracking/patient alerting company. Maria experienced illness from newly FDA approved breast implants and regained health upon removal. After healing, she decided to take action by supporting other women suffering from breast implant illness and BIA-ALCL through various support groups. She testified in front of the FDA at the most recent hearing on the safety of breast implants in March 2019.

Maria is President and co-founder of Breast Implant Safety Alliance (BISA Nonprofit). In September of 2019, she and her BISA organization were the first patient advocacy group given a booth at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons “Plastic Surgery The Meeting.” Through her experience, she learned of the greater issues with medical devices and advocates in DC for medical device safety. She serves as a breast implant representative for Medical Device Problems Advocacy of ASHES Nonprofit. She also serves as a breast implant patient representative for the National Center for Health Research’s Breast Implant Working Group, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Patient Group and the Breast Device Collaborative Community. 


Maria currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She hopes to raise public awareness because individuals need accurate information to make informed health decisions.

Sarah Beckcom, Acting Vice President

Sarah Beckcom works a day job for a large CPG company with over 17 years of experience, she holds a B.S. in hospitality administration which led her into the CPG industry in 2004. In her spare time, Sarah serves on the Breast Implant Safety Alliance board.  She is currently writing bills for both Arkansas and Virginia on informed consent but her advocacy role started well before that.  After 4 years of having her symptoms of breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma downplayed or brushed off, Sarah decided to remove her 6 year old Allergan breast implants.  Her doctor promised proper testing, however that was not done and the majority of her capsules were thrown out.  The remaining capsules were later sent to MD Anderson where evidence of ALCL was found and further testing was ordered. This testing came back negative with no other capsules retained from her previous doctor.  She now follows a 5 year surveillance for Lymphoma advised by her doctors and has a lifetime risk due to her implants.  Had her doctors been informed of her symptoms matching BIA-ALCL in advance, she would have had proper testing done prior to removal versus months later.

 

Sarah now advocates for proper testing, informed consent, stricter guidelines on FDA approval, and a symptom checklist for all doctors.  Sarah has 4 children and co-resides in Arkansas and Virginia with her husband of 17 years.  She wants to make sure that women as well as doctors are informed of the risks associated with implants and that BIA-ALCL is no longer referred to as rare but emerging. 


Julie Elliott, Advocate Representative for Canada
Julie Elliott is a Breast Implant Illness Survivor and an ASIA syndrome patient diagnosed post silicone implant removal. Julie is bilingual and is a spokeswoman for Québec’s and French-Canadian women negatively affected by breast implants. She is the Founder of the French-Canadian closed social media support group “Maladie des implants mammaires” (Bii / BIA-ALCL) and the Public Relations Director for Breast Implant Failure and Illness Society of Canada which regularly consults with Health Canada about BII and BIA-ALCL. In 2018, Julie appeared on the Canadian ICIJ documentary produced by the CBC in November 2018, “Investigation : The trouble is under the skin.” In 2019, she spoke to the FDA on the safety concerns with breast implants. She was a BISA Nonprofit representative for Canada at ASPS Plastic Surgery: The Meeting in 2019 and a participant at the 2020 Quebec ASPEQ annual meeting (Association of the Quebec Plastic Surgery  Professionals as patient’s advocate. BISA Nonprofit’s representative for Canada. 

Julie is currently living in Montreal, Québec, Canada and is trained as a security and investigation specialist. Presently, Julie is studying for her LPN diploma so that she may continue to help breast implant patients. You can read more about Julie’s story on the National Center for Health Research Breast Implant Info Website.

 

 

 

 

 


 

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We are working toward our goals with ACTION!

  • Providing patient support by managing and volunteering in local and global support groups.

  • Increasing awareness about Breast Implant Illness and BIA-ALCL to the public by attending/speaking at health conferences, supplying literature and creating PSAs.

  • Supporting medical coding/diagnosis for Breast Implant Illness and coding for proper implant removal by collaborating with organizations submitting proposals.

  • Passing the Medical Device Safety Act (HR 2669) and Medical Device Guardians Act (HR2915). These bills will increase patient safety by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to federal preemption of product liability under State and local requirements for all Class III medical devices and mandate doctors report adverse events directly to the FDA.

  • Passing state legislation for proper informed consent which includes mandatory distribution of manufacturer patient information as well as a patient/doctor checklist that highlights important health risks.