The Art of Listening Award honors a health professional who models the importance of caring, receptive professionals in the lives of individuals and families living with genetic conditions. The award was presented to Jeremy Zuker on behalf of his father, Dr. Ronald M. Zuker by Vicki McCarrell, President of the Moebius Syndrome Foundation, at the Awards Banquet on Saturday July 28, 2007 at the annual Genetic Alliance conference.
Courtesy of the Genetic Alliance:
Ronald M.Zuker, MD, a plastic surgeon based in Toronto, has been affiliated with the Moebius Syndrome Foundation (MSF) since its inception in 1994. Known for pioneering the grascillis muscle surgery ("smile surgery") in 1997, Dr. Zuker's works has benefited countless children throughout the world living with Moebius syndrome. His patients view him as a model physician who takes time with each patient and their family to carefully explain the procedure, answers any questions, and simply listen. A member of the MSF states, "I'm always amazed at the time he takes with each person who wants to talk to him. At our conferences, he gets down on his knees to talk to the children, plays with them and never turns away anyone who wants to talk to him. He's even missed airplane flights because he won't tell people he doesn't have the time to talk to them."
The Genetic Alliance is a genetic advocacy organization based in Washington D.C., of which the Moebius Syndrome Foundation is a member. For more information on the Genetic Alliance visit http://www.geneticalliance.org/
Dr. Zuker's Acceptance Speech:
Master of Ceremonies, the Executive of Genetic Alliance, members and guests,
It is a distinct privilege for me to accept this award on behalf of my father. Unfortunately he had a previous commitment which was made a year ago and could not attend this evening personally. I want you to know he was sincerely touched by the honour bestowed upon him and he asked me to share these thoughts with you.
As a physician and surgeon, we are often wrapped up by what can be done. It is amazing where science has taken us. I personally have been fortunate to be able to develop micro surgical procedures to alleviate the physical and emotional consequences of facial paralysis. Through my involvement with children with Moebius syndrome, I have come to know what a facial difference can mean to a child and his or her family. These children cannot animate their paralysed faces. We cannot as yet offer cures but we can offer the creation of a smile - not a perfect smile, but nevertheless, an effective way for face - to - face communicating.
This may not always be wanted nor needed but it is a viable option for some of these children. It is only through listening to their stories and listening to their perceptions of themselves that we can truly make a rational decision as to whether surgery will be helpful and beneficial. To make this decision, a relationship between the doctor, the family and the child must be established. Listening to the child is crucial. The answer is there, one only has to hear it.
The progress of science in our world often overshadows the need for trust, caring and listening. To do what is right requires both - the knowledge and capability to perform the surgical procedure as well as the expectation that it will be helpful to the child. The children I see with Moebius syndrome are bright, sensitive and amazingly capable of making their own decisions. We must listen to their dreams in order to really make a difference in their lives.
Listening to children and parents is not the only source of important information. It is people like Vicki McCarrell, the president of the Moebius Syndrome Foundation, who through her tireless efforts provides incredible support and guidance in serving the best interests of these children. I thank her and all the many volunteers who do so much for others.
My Dad has devoted a great portion of his life to helping others and has made positive difference to the lives of so many children. He has done this with his surgical talents and his ability to connect with his patients. He is truly a great listener and, of course, I am very proud of him.
In conclusion, I would like to sincerely thank the Genetic Alliance in recognizing the importance of listening and to thank you for bestowing this award to my father, Ron Zuker.
Presented by Jeremy Zuker