Donato D. LaRossa, 72, plastic surgeon

Donato D. LaRossa
Donato D. LaRossa
Posted: January 26, 2014

Donato D. LaRossa, 72, of Radnor and later Malvern, a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia, died Tuesday, Jan. 21, of cancer at his home.

Dr. LaRossa specialized in surgery to repair cleft lip and palate defects, as well as reconstructive surgery and aesthetic improvements to the breast, face, and ear. He also operated on melanoma patients.

He was a professor of surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine from 1991 until 2009, when he was named professor emeritus.

Dr. LaRossa also was director of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the busiest surgical centers for youngsters in the region.

Sharon Mallick of Delaware County was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate. Dr. LaRossa was her reconstructive surgeon throughout her childhood. Seven years ago, when her son was born with a cleft lip, she called Dr. LaRossa immediately.

"He remembered me very well, which I didn't really expect," she recalled. "He said: 'I remember you because you were my patient when I was just beginning my career, and one of the first I got to see until adulthood, so I think of you as one of 'my kids.' And now that I also have the honor of helping your son, I get to help 'my grandson.' "

Born in Plainfield, N.J., Dr. LaRossa graduated from Plainfield High School. He received his bachelor's degree from Seton Hall University in 1963 and his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1967.

Dr. LaRossa spent two years, ending in 1976, working at the Army's Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver as his military service, and was honorably discharged with the rank of major.

To recognize his longtime commitment to training surgical residents, Dr. LaRossa received the Penn Plastic Surgery Annual Teaching Award - which became the Don LaRossa Teaching Award, given annually.

Dr. LaRossa was a member of the American Medical Association and a member of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, of which he was president in 2003.

He made numerous visits to India, elsewhere in Asia, and South America to perform cleft-palate surgery on needy children.

In his spare time, Dr. LaRossa made sculptures in stone and bronze, one of which is on display outside the Radnor Memorial Library in Wayne. He loved vacationing in Avalon, N.J., with his family.

He is survived by his wife, the former Anne Congdon Matternes; daughters Victoria Karlson and Nicole Ginieczki; stepchildren Brian King, George Congdon, Gregory King, and Laura Wethman; a brother; a sister; and 17 grandchildren.

His first wife, Virginia Spaldo LaRossa, died in 2003, and a daughter, Wendelyn Ciatto, died in 2007.

A viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Donohue Funeral Home, 366 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, followed by a 1 p.m. Funeral Mass at Daylesford Abbey, 220 S. Valley Rd., Paoli. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery on Monday, Jan. 27, at 11 a.m.

Contributions may be made to Rotaplast International, 3317 26th St., San Francisco, Calif. 94110, or via


comments powered by Disqus