Geoff’s Story

I was born in 1961 with no right ear or canal. I had just a small lobe when I was born. Since birth I have spent a life time dealing with my condition. I have a close supportive wife, Mother, family and friends who have got me through the tough times. My Father died when I was 5 years old. I am very close to my Mother who suffered the pain of watching and supporting me on her own.

In the 60s and 70s I had 75 reconstruction operations at St Luke’s hospital Bradford with my concluding surgery done by the “Guinea Pig” surgeon Bertram Owen-Smith in Africa. I have also had surgery when I was a child to restore my hearing in my left ear. The reconstruction operations involved removing bone from my ribs and skin from my right arm, neck and legs.

The webpages below gives details of Bertram Owen-Smith:

My Brother’s step daughter has Mircotia and took my advice not to have surgery.

My last surgery was done when I was 17 by Owen Smith. My right ear is an exact replica of his ears as both were burnt off from his air crash and reconstructed. I have had no further surgery since and will only consider further surgery to improve me hearing when and if I go deaf.

Today, medical science can condense these 75 operations to 3 operations (normally) which I am very pleased about as the suffering is massively reduced to folk who go down this route today. A large number of my operations was as a result of infections and rejection of my skin and bone. I am told that the odds of success today have massively increased against infection and rejection. Surgery is not 100% perfect but today it is a 90% improvement compared to my outcome. That said with surgery there is no going back and today I am always very careful what I wish for.

My tough times were at school and there have been other times since leaving school. This the reason why I support Changing Faces and Microtia UK. I want support these groups as I want to help and support people not have as tough time as I did.

Bertram Owen-Smith was my Changing Faces mentor as he himself suffered horrific facial burns and was some-one who I related to very well and was a guiding light for me. I consider myself very lucky to have met such an individual as most people in my position do not have such luck. This is were Changing Faces and Microtia UK come in. Changing Faces is a charity for people and families who are living with conditions, marks or scars that affect their appearance. I have been with Changing Faces since the early 90s and I am a volunteer on their Advisory Board. I have been with Microtia UK since it started as a registered charity.

My Story Today

I work for IBM in the Hardware Division as a Senior Technical Specialist supporting large UK retailers and Banks with their Corporate IT systems using the IBM z machines (large computers). I have been working with these IBM machines since 1979. I have a BSc degree in Applied Computer Science from Manchester.

Since 1987 I have been scuba diving and currently involved with mix gas technical diving allowing me to go to wrecks deeper than 50 meters. My diving takes me all over the world. March this year I was very fortunate to dive the Japanese World War II wrecks at Truk Lagoon in the Pacific Ocean. I am also involved with diving groups that have located a number of wrecks and uBoats off the British coast and involved in the conservation of sharks. On my Facebook I have videos/ pictures of my Shark dives with extremely close encounters.

Finally, I should add that I have done some high profile public Charity fund raising for Changing Faces. A few years ago I did a 10km charity run to raise money for Changing Faces. I hate running!

I represented Changing Faces in 2003 for the Team that won the bid to make Liverpool the City of Culture in 2008. Thanks to Yoko Ono we managed to raise some serious cash. I guess that was my 15 minute of fame! This year I abseiled off the Forth Bridge.

On the Guinea Pig Club – here are 2 youtube videos that might be of interest.

This a powerful introduction which 3 mins but sums the Club up well.

The is a movie which is 26mins long and old but also give a good insight.