The treatment of all patients suffering head, neck, and facial injuries, diseases and growth disorders took a giant step forwards last month (Wednesday 26 November).
Hundreds gathered at the Southbank Centre in London for the launch of the National Facial Oral and Oculoplastic Research Centre (NFORC), compered by Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow.
Actor Alan Rickman and the deputy chief medical officer for the NHS Mike Bewick opened the event.
Patients recounted their experiences of the impact of facial injury, jaw joint problems, disfiguring facial growth disorders, mouth cancer, and melanoma.
Emotions ran high as tears of happiness were shed over some accounts.
Professor Bernard Devauchelle, who performed the world’s first facial transplant, described how he did it and what he has learnt from the outcomes of the surgery.
Scientists spoke about growing and making body parts to replace the face, and surgeons discussed their research to improve treatment for all facial conditions.
Professor Iain Hutchison, director of National Facial Oral and Oculoplastic Research Centre, said: ‘This is the first time all the surgeons in one nation have combined with their patients to collect the exact details of the treatment given by each surgeon and every patient’s report on the physical, social and emotional outcome of their treatment.
‘That’s how we’ll work out which of the many treatments available for each condition works best.
‘Surgeons around the world are excited about this pioneering centre and want to partner us as they have nothing like it in their own country.
‘I’ve already had enquiries from researchers in Europe and the USA about the possibility of analysing these huge datasets.
‘NFORC research will eliminate the uncertainty that bedevils decision-making by surgeons who always want to improve treatment for their patients.’
NFORC has been made possible by collaboration between three national surgical organisations dealing with the face – The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS), The British Oculoplastic Surgical society (BOPSS) and the British Orthodontic Society (BOS) and the charity, Saving Faces, which is funding the National Facial Oral and Oculoplastic Research Centre.