Dr. Ren Helps to Make Lives More Beautiful Inside and Out
Sometimes, a little confidence is all people need to completely turn their lives around. Dr. Leon Ren, a cosmetic dentist based in Newport Beach, Calif., founded his nonprofit, Life Is Beautiful, with the intention to guide people through this process of body and mind transformation. With two successful cases under their belt, Ren and his team of cosmetic doctors are determined to continue making their patients’ lives more beautiful with a helping hand, free of charge.
With 20 years of experience in the field, Ren founded the organization in 2011 and has not looked back. He dedicates his practice to creating profound improvement in the quality of his patients’ lives while making a lifelong commitment to their health and well-being. With a team of ten other doctors, Ren empowers individuals who have suffered tragic events by donating cosmetic surgery, dentistry, counseling and lifestyle coaching to raise their confidence, attitude and spirit.
Ren grew up and attended school in China, where he excelled in painting. He later immigrated to the U.S. and continued his education at Loma Linda University, earning his degree in dentistry in 1992. He decided to use both of his talents by building a career in cosmetic dentistry. “Dentistry is the closest thing to using my artistic talent,” he explained.
Ren soon noticed that he wasn’t just fixing people’s teeth; he was supporting them more than he could have ever imagined.
“Throughout my career when I fixed people’s teeth, some of the adults that came in never smiled in their life. All of a sudden, now they smile. And when they came back, they shared their stories. They’re not saying anything about their teeth but how their lives changed. That kind of thing inspired me. I’m not just fixing their teeth but my work actually improved their lives.”
The more patients thanked Ren for his life-changing work, the more he wanted to help people on a bigger scale. He realized, “The people that can really benefit from my service are the ones that are least able to afford it.”
Ren knew that he wanted to help the less fortunate by completing their body and mind transformations at no cost. Along with other cosmetic surgeons in Orange County, he planned to do something good for the community. He came across a story about a woman named Sheryl Brackley, 43, who was in need of more than just a makeover, but therapy too. She became Life Is Beautiful’s first patient.
“I had just happened to read her story and she needed a lot of dental work. When I first met her, her life had taken a turn for the worse […] We offered to help her and she was ready,” Ren remembered. “She hated the way she looked, not just physically, but it was associated with her very painful past that reminded her of something really dark and this new look gave her hope.”
Brackley went through her change during 2011. Six months before the surgery, Ren suggested that Sheryl go through physical training, weight loss and therapy to make sure she was on the right track. After progress and a changed attitude, she received head-to-toe surgery, beautifying her smile and several body areas. After recovering for four to five months, she was ready to be presented to the public and the community. The Life Is Beautiful black tie fundraising gala was held in May 2012 for her remarkable unveiling. She made a special speech explaining how she has finally come to accept herself through this life-altering journey.
Last summer, Ren read a story in the Orange County Register about Army specialist Daniel Foster, and his struggle to get health insurance after being injured in combat in Afghanistan. He suffered from a shattered jaw, missing teeth and a torn face, making it impossible to play his saxophone. Ren reached out to Foster immediately and he is currently in the process of his transformation. The Warriors and Wishes fundraiser was held to help with this case. Another celebration will be held for Foster’s unveiling that will grant his wish to play music once again.
Each case can cost up to $100,000, depending on the services clients need to complete their transformation. Ren and his team devote their time, effort and out-of-pocket money to transforming these patients’ lives for free.
Through fundraisers, they have been able to raise money for some of the hard cost. Ren’s charity also supports Orange County organizations like the Magic Mirror Foundation and Veterans First.
Ren learned that life transformations like these call for specialty care. “Physical transformation is only part of it, but [it] can give people confidence [and] it needs to go along with the internal change. They have to be ready and they have to be committed to the work,” he said.
Ren hopes to create a team of doctors in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco who will donate their services and volunteer their time for these special cases. Once more doctors join in these cities, more lives will become beautiful. The team reached out to the first two patients, but plans to create a panel to decide which cases they will take on next. For 2013, he is focusing on creating chapters in Los Angeles and possibly San Diego.
“I can literally say now that we save lives […] We have that much impact on someone’s life. That’s monumental.”
Ren and his team continue to strive to help other patients realize that life is beautiful and live their lives to the fullest.
To learn more about the Life Is Beautiful charity, visit www.LifeIsBeautifulCharity.org.