A PLASTIC surgeon who has helped children in the UK and Nepal is getting ready to put his scrubs away and focus on research.
Bruce Richard, who worked as a cleft lip and palate specialist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, will be retiring from surgery at Solihull’s Spire Parkway to focus on research and raising awareness of cleft lip and cleft palate conditions.
He will be working on the national facial growth outcome research project which aims to improve the results of the initial lip and palate operations by analysing data from over 400 children.
A cleft lip is a split in the upper lip that occurs when the developing facial structures in an unborn baby don’t close completely and a cleft palate is where the tissue in the roof of the mouth doesn’t join together.
A baby may be born with either or both conditions.
Over the years Bruce has spent time in Nepal training others to diagnose, treat and provide follow up aftercare for children.
He said: “Working at the Western Regional Hospital in Nepal it became very apparent that there was a need to build a specialist team to support these patients locally, as any surgery often meant a 200 mile trip to Kathmandu for treatment, which was only occasionally available.
“Our aim was to train and build a specialist network who could diagnose, treat and provide follow up aftercare for what were often very malnourished children.
“Over the years I worked with and trained seven surgeons. Our team included nurses, anaesthetists and a speech and language therapist.”
From his work training the specialists Bruce then decided to become a trustee of the charity Cleft – bridging the gap, which aims to provide permanent, sustainable, ways to improve cleft care in both the UK and overseas.
He said: “Much about cleft goes unheard of in the UK, it is often fully treatable and you hear no more.
“For those in non-western countries cleft’s have a much bigger impact on the lives of so many.
“Children may have no treatment and be forced to live with the condition, leaving them potentially ostracised from society because of their facial deformity and their inability to speak clearly. We want to change that.
“I hope my time supporting the national facial growth outcome research project and being a trustee to Cleft, will support those most in need and help less fortunate communities to build structures to support themselves and future generations.”
For more visit www.cleft.org.uk