Around one in every 500 human babies is born with some form of craniofacial anomaly, and the grief of families and the ongoing hurt and humiliation of the children is profound. Many craniofacial problems can also cause speech difficulties, progressive brain damage, blindness, deafness and premature death -- terrible outcomes now largely avoidable through skilled surgical intervention.
The Australian Craniofacial Unit (ACFU) is a world-leading medical centre for the treatment and care of birth anomalies and traumatic injury of the head and face. The foremost aim of the Unit is to ensure that those experiencing the stigma and suffering of craniofacial disfigurement can assume their place in society with renewed hope and restored dignity. The forty year history of the ACFU is one of tears, joy and 17,000 miracles.
Its services are available to all Australians through Medicare.
The primary protocol of the Unit is 'humane, patient-centred treatment and care' . . .
The unique success of the Australian Craniofacial Unit lies in the fact that it is a multidisciplinary team drawing together the skills and expertise of more than a dozen specialities, from plastic surgery and genetics to neuropsychology and speech therapy.
The primary protocol of the ACFU is 'humane, patient-centred treatment and care' and its team-members are dedicated to compassion and excellence. While it provides significant treatment to adult victims of accidents, violence and burns, the majority of the Unit's patients are babies and children. The Australian Craniofacial Unit is based at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide but it also conducts surgery at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. As well, the ACFU operates visiting clinics in regional South Australia, nationally and in several neighbouring countries .
The Australian Craniofacial Unit does magnificent work in both treatment and research. We know this because its patients, their families and friends, and the international medical community tell us so. However, this work is expensive and many of the ACFU's activities and programs rely on the generosity of ordinary Australians and corporate citizens for them to continue. As you can see below there are numerous ways in which you can donate or assist, and by contacting Craniofacial Australia your further support can be discussed in person.
Prior to the advent of advanced surgical techniques, craniofacial sufferers were often institutionalised or held at home as virtual prisoners, too afraid or ashamed to show their faces to the world.
CLICK HERE to listen to Professor David David AC in Conversation with Richard Fidler. Professor David talks to Fidler about the inspiration and imperatives behind the establishment of the Australian Cranio-facial Unit; the protocols that maintain its integrity and success; and about some of his personal and family history.
Left is an interview with Damian de Wit, a former trauma patient of the Australian Craniofacial Unit. Damian's life was nearly destroyed by head injuries from a brick thrown at his car from an expressway overpass. The surgeons and carers of the ACFU helped him put his life back together.