By Darla Shelden
Kenneth E. Salyer, M.D. is internationally recognized as a pioneer and leader in craniofacial surgery. In 1989, he established the World Craniofacial Foundation to treat children who previously had no access to specialized medical care.
Salyer made international news in 2003 when he successfully separated Egyptian conjoined twin boys who are thriving and just celebrated their 12th birthdays.
Salyer is founder of the International Craniofacial Institute and the Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment Center at Medical City Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Today, Dr. Salyer and the World Craniofacial Foundation continue to inspire hope and healing for children around the world who have highly complex deformities of the face and neck.
“Twenty five years ago we established the World Craniofacial Foundation (WCF) and prior to that time I had established a premier center treating patients from 75 countries and every single state in the US,” Dr. Salyer said.
In the United States and abroad, the World Craniofacial Foundation matches and refers patients to craniofacial centers that accept charity cases.
“Our goal initially was to help children gain access and support the families that needed it,” said Salyer. “Following that we created more educational programs and fellowships for training surgeons. We have grown, not only to helping patients in the US, but also patients abroad.”
Over the course of Dr. Salyer’s 50-year career, he has treated hundreds of children from Oklahoma, like 10-year-old William Cinnamon.
“We felt that there was this need for many families, like little William’s that had no means for transportation or housing, or had any opportunity to gain access to this type of care,” Salyer said.
“William has a severe syndrome called Jackson-Weiss, where the sutures of his face and head close prematurely,” said Salyer. “What happens is the brain keeps growing and expanding. He’s had to have a number of surgeries just to save his life and now to maintain his life as his brain grows.”
Salyer is currently working to establish the first world-class Craniofacial center at the University of Oklahoma, partnering with Dr. Joseph Michienzi.
Michienzi specializes in craniofacial surgery, craniomaxillofacial reconstructive surgery and aesthetic facial plastic surgery.
“Dr. Michienzi came to us in Dallas in a competition taking only one outstanding surgeon a year.” said Salyer. “We give doctors an intense year of training in cranial facial surgery to make them super specialists.
“The WCF paid for Dr. Michienzi’s year of training, where he not only trained in Dallas with me and our team, but we also send him to two of the most needy centers in the world, Paris and Taiwan. There, in 1979, he trained with my first fellow, Dr. Yu Ray Chen. It’s quite a story. We’re completing the circle with Joe McKinzie now in Oklahoma City.”
Today, one in 700 children are born with craniofacial abnormalities. Many of these children never receive the care they need. Others wait months or even years to receive life changing, and, in many cases, life-saving, craniofacial surgery.
William’s mother, Donise Cinnamon said, “The World Craniofacial Foundation helps us with hotel rooms close to the hospital when William has his surgeries. They also help us with our fuel expenses, and if I need them to, they can help with meals.
“I would like to say a really big thank you to the World Craniofacial Foundation. I’m glad they’re around, and I love the way they treat us.”
Recently, Dr. Salyer was at Barnes & Noble in Oklahoma City promoting his new book, “A Life That Matters,” a collection of amazing patient stories from his 50-year medical career. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the book sales go to directly benefit the foundation.
“I’ve written nine textbooks on this subject and ‘Life that Matters’ is the first book I’ve written for the lay public,” said Salyer. “We want the public to realize that every human being deserves to have a normal face. We care about the children and we want this information to be out there.
“Our goal would be to see this care offered to every child in Oklahoma and in the region.”
For more information call 800-533-3315 or visit www.worldcf.org.
Internationally renowned surgeon partners with OU physician to establish craniofacial center
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