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.
BISA Nonprofit Board Members
Maria Gmitro, President + Cofounder
Terri Diaz, Vice President
Robyn Towt, Advocate
Sarah Carlin, Treasurer
Michael Gmitro, Member
Sarah Beckcom, Advocate
Danielle Valoras, Medical Consultant
Holly Ennis, Legal Consultant
Andrea Citarelli Ottaiano
International Advocate Council
*Representatives for BISA Nonprofit at ASPS Plastic Surgery: The Meeting 2020
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.
Terri Diaz, BISA Nonprofit Vice President
Terri Diaz is a wife and mother from Florida and is a breast implant illness survivor. What ultimately prompted Terri to become involved in patient safety advocacy was the results of her own 10-year debilitating illness due to an adverse reaction to an implantable medical device placed in 2006. At the time of implanting, she was not informed of the side effects that can be caused by breast implants.
In her commitment to supporting awareness, Terri has founded a group on Facebook in Florida to support local women looking to remove their breast implants. This group is dedicated to helping women navigate through the journey of properly removing their breast implants for optimal health and healing. She was asked to share her testimony at the FDA closed meeting in Sept. 2018 on the safety of breast implants and again in March of 2019 at the open meeting on the safety of breast implants. Terri has over 4 years of experience in advocacy work and has been sought out by multiple News Stations in Florida (WFTV, WPTV, and CBS4) to share her personal story and to promote awareness on Breast Implant Illness and Safety. Terri continues to lobby local Florida Legislators for an informed consent bill for breast implants in the state of Florida and for their support on the Medical Safety Device Act and Guardians Act.
She has found her passion for facilitating the Breast Implant Health Summit 2020. The purpose of the summit is for physicians and health care providers to share ideas on how to help heal women that experience breast implant illness. Our commitment is to bring together a round table discussion on the continuing education of breast implant illness and to share ideas for optimal healing with practitioners, diverse health care fields, and patients. Terri's dedication to this cause is for the women that are still left behind. Her advocacy is the voice for the voiceless. That commitment has now expanded to working in advocacy full time.
Robyn Towt, Advocate
Robyn Towt is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in 2017, had a double mastectomy and reconstruction with Mentor Silicone breast implants which caused an array of debilitating health issues. Robyn had explant surgery after just four months of having implants and her symptoms completely resolved. This experience led her to become an advocate for raising awareness about breast implant safety.
Robyn has shared her testimony twice at the FDA in Washington D.C. She is also an administrator in the Facebook group Arizona Breast Implant Illness and Information. She works closely with local plastic surgeons and the Arizona Society of Plastic Surgeons. Robyn has been a strong advocate at the Arizona state capitol, working with state legislators on implementing legislation that will mandate surgeons to provide patients with proper informed consent and patient information literature. Robyn is passionate about being a part of BISA Nonprofit, raising awareness and protecting patients. She believes every patient should be given the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding breast implants and every patient deserves to have all of the information prior to having surgery.
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.
Sarah Beckcom, Advocate
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.
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.