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Skull surgery offers hope for horror fall patient

The amazing story of a young man who fell from a hotel balcony causing a massive head injury is told in the seventh episode of The Face Doctors at 9pm this Wednesday (26 June), and available to stream via discovery+.

The incident happened in Greece and 23-year-old Alfie - while lucky to be alive with the help of immediate medical treatment - is living with part of his skull missing and his brain dangerously unprotected beneath a thin layer of skin.

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Professor Peter Hutchinson

Alfie is fortunate to be under the care of Professor Peter Hutchinson who - among a long list of professional interests - is an honorary consultant neurosurgeon at Addenbrooke’s, with a sub-specialist interest in the management of neuro-trauma, specifically head and traumatic brain injury.

“Hutch”, as Professor Hutchinson is known, holds coveted Olivecrona and Vilhelm Magnus Prizes for his work on acute brain injury. He concludes that Alfie’s best chance is to replace the missing bone with a titanium implant, but there are risks of surgery including infection and that his body could reject it.

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Mr Simon Woodruff

Meanwhile, patient Sue is desperately hoping an artificial eye will give her the confidence to look in the mirror again. Luckily, she is in the hands of another expert with years’ of experience - consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon, Mr Simon Woodruff.

Simon qualified as a doctor in 1991, has been a surgeon for over 30 years, and gets a great sense of satisfaction achieving the best outcomes possible for his patients.

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Registrar Shadi Basyuni

Elsewhere, patient Freddie is rushed into A&E with part of his lip hanging off after colliding with another rugby player. On duty is speciality trainee and clinical research fellow in oral and maxillo-facial surgery Registrar Shadi Basyuni.

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Ms Linda Treharne

Viewers are also introduced to 46-year-old patient, Hywel, who has a basal cell carcinoma on his cheek, and he sees consultant cleft and plastic surgeon Ms Linda Treharne in her outpatients’ clinic.

The skin cancer is removed under local anaesthetic, and the challenge for Linda is to close the skin in a way that when it heals the scar will blend into the natural lines on his face.

Hywel is in safe hands, as Linda’s training has seen her travel far and wide - from Bristol to Newcastle, Wales to Rotterdam, Great Ormond Street to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and beyond.

Medical director, Dr Ashley Shaw, said:

We are given a remarkable insight into what goes on behind theatre doors, and an understanding of what drives staff to do their level best for our patients.

We would invite anyone who thinks they can offer the same level of dedication to review our career pages and see what they can do for their community – and what CUH can do for them.

Dr Ashley Shaw

‘The Face Doctors’ consists of eight weekly episodes that follow the journeys of patients whose lives have been impacted as a result of flesh-eating infections, challenging genetic conditions, and life-changing traumas.

It is not just about fixing broken bodies, but restoring identities, mending confidence, and helping patients and families rebuild their lives. There are touching moments as patients see their new reflections, and as families share their joy.

It has been produced by Dragonfly TV, the same award-winning company that shot six series BBC Two’s ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’, which won wide acclaim and was watched by millions of viewers.

To learn more about surgeons in the series visit ‘The Face Doctors’ pages. For information about working at CUH visit our careers pages.