Who is Dr Marucci?
I am excited to be writing this as Dr Damian Marucci is not like most surgeons. The surgeons we write about most often, do have interesting quirks and ideas. I will not hold back from labelling Dr Marucci the Steve Irwin of Plastic Surgery. The excitement, energy, and animation Dr Marucci expels is contagious. He is positive, enthusiastic, and passionate about everything he does. Learning about his career and life was thrilling and it would be impossible to leave his presence, not on a high.
Dr Marucci studied at Sydney University, he completed his MBBS and Bachelor of Arts, followed by a PhD in Surgery. He then travelled to the prestigious Oxford University, where he worked for a year at The John Radcliffe Hospital. John Radcliffe is a large tertiary teaching hospital in Oxford, England, and a leading centre for medical research. Dr Marucci was mentored by Mr Barry Jones an accomplished consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon, aka Mr Facelift and “The best in the world”. Dr Marucci is very proud of his training and mentors and his enthusiasm is uplifting.
The time Dr Marucci spent in Oxford was clearly very memorable. Dr Marucci told us he worked in the children’s craniofacial unit and the hospital moto was “The child first and always”. With children being our most vulnerable patients in society, this is extremely comforting. Dr Marucci is certainly a surgeon I would trust with my children.
The experience and expertise learnt has not only been an integral part of Dr Marucci’s practice today but has helped many children and adults through the work he does with Interplast. Interplast send surgeons to remote and underprivileged destinations where access to a qualified plastic surgeon is not possible. Dr Marucci remembers early in his career wanting to be part of Interplast but feeling unsure. The reason he gave was simple. For a consultant plastic surgeon to go away, was honourable and they have years of experience to fall back on in an emergency. For a registrar training in plastic surgery, to go away is like “flying without a net”. This makes perfect sense, as the extended network of health professionals in our major hospitals in Australia, compared to that of a remote hospital in a third world country, are vastly different. Dr Marucci was invited to go on his first trip when someone pulled out at the last minute, he described feeling scared and a bit like the feeling you get when you are about to bungy jump. At this point, Alfie and I were on the edge of our seats waiting to hear if he went through with it. Dr Marucci took up the challenge so that no one would miss out on this life altering surgery. He went to the Philippines in 2009 with Dr Mike McGlynn, a hand and reconstructive surgeon.
Since the 2009 trip, Dr Marucci has returned every year with Dr Benjamin Norris, and he loves it. Dr Marucci speaks very highly of Dr Norris and the work they do is incredible. It is humbling, sometimes very sad and heart-warming, hearing about the people’s lives they have touched. Dr Marucci is a father of 3 and to be able to help parents provide for their children or help their children live a normal life, is remarkable. There are sad moments to these trips as well. There are patients who are too far gone or have tumours too large they cannot help. The resources are not available, and it would be unsafe. This does not deter from the patients Dr Marucci can operate on. In one instance Dr Marucci operated on a young child’s cleft palate and the following year the child’s father, aged 20, came in to have his cleft palate repaired. Just amazing. The eldest cleft palate patient was in their 40’s, this is something you would never see in a first world country. He is truly honoured to have the opportunity to go away every year with Dr Norris. Dr Marucci does the Cleft Palate and facial patients whilst Dr Norris does everything else which can be very broad. Dr Marucci looks forward to his Interplast trips and spoke of his great team, including his Scrub Nurse M J Laing and his anaesthetist Dr Allan Goody. Dr Marucci describes the trips as fantastic!
Lastly, we spoke about the Journal Club set up for training plastic registrars. At this point we wanted to grab popcorn because again, Dr Marucci’s face lit up with excitement to tell us about the journal club and the achievements made. Dr Marucci is a senior lecturer at Sydney University, teaching surgical anatomy he exclaimed “I Love it”. He described the Journal Club is a treat and stated “I read all the current papers and the journal club forces me too”. If you want a surgeon on top of all the latest research, do not look past Dr Marucci. Dr Marucci started the journal club after being part of a journal club in the UK. The club has grown to be sponsored by Smith & Nephew allowing the registrars to have catering at each meeting, which facilitates learning, discussion, and critical thinking. Dr Marucci is very passionate about his journal club. Despite being widely published himself, Dr Marucci told us with excitement “Can you believe Professor Anand Deva himself came to our journal club to discuss his paper”. He then rattles off the other co-authors who I could not write quick enough. He then states, “huge buzz, how cool is that?” It was like he was talking about a huge Hollywood movie star. His energy was delightful, and he was right, Professor Anand Deva is exceptionally busy and gave up his time to chat to the registrars to openly discuss his research and findings. That is very cool, and his time certainly was appreciated. I think you forget how much work some of our leading plastic surgeons take on, especially when they are so approachable and down to earth. Dr Marucci also spoke about how great Dr Russell Aldred is and how having a different take on everything enriches the learning for the plastic registrars. The journal club meets every 4th Wednesday and on the 29th of November 2017 the next meeting is the 10-year anniversary!
Congratulations to the journal club and Dr Marucci on ten years of sharing knowledge, evidence, science and keeping up to date. Dr Marucci is an advocate for always learning and patient safety. He stated the surgeries he is doing today, in 5 years will be different. Techniques, evidence and research drive best practice, with patient safety and results always the priority. How incredibly lucky are the children of Samoa and the Philippines to have Dr Marucci as part of the Interplast team. Dr Marucci is not only a surgeon you can trust he is an educator, father, husband, mentor and friend to many.
The journal club Facebook page can be found at;