From Associate Professor Chris Coombs, Director, Department of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

I love inspiration.

In my job every day I see inspiration. I am very lucky. I see it in my patients, the institutions I work at and in my colleagues. There are so many stories – the successful separation of conjoined twins Krishna and Trisna a few years ago; my colleague reconstructing a child’s leg following cancer surgery or watching trainee plastic surgeons hone their skills to help children into the future.

I had a desire to treat hand problems when I was at medical school. Anatomy always fascinated me, particularly hand anatomy. I also love kids and surgery so the natural fit for me was to become a paediatric hand surgeon.

Many people wonder why I am a plastic surgeon doing that. When I started my career that was the only path for paediatric hand surgeons. I actually believe the skills that you obtain as a plastic surgeon really assists you as a kids hand surgeon.

I had a vision to create a paediatric hand surgery service with my colleague Associate Professor Bruce Johnstone. We set about building up a group of surgeons who trained and worked with all the leading children’s hand surgeons in the world. The importance of the international community sharing knowledge and skills cannot be underestimated. We are proud that at the Royal Children’s Hospital we have a wonderful group of highly trained paediatric hand surgeons led by Mr David McCombe which can benefit our community, our patients and their families. That is our goal.

Inspiration is seen every day by parents. They see their children playing a concerto, making the Olympics, knowing their times tables, feeding themselves, tying shoelaces, writing their names and doing up their buttons. They always amaze us!

I met a baby on 19 July 1999 with symbrachydactyly, David Serpell. His parents Elizabeth and Gary Serpell had a vision and that was the creation of Aussie Hands! It is an absolutely amazing and inspiring group of people and families. I hope Aussie Hands feels proud of the support that members give one another, the friendships that are made and the vision that is shared – and that is for everyone to be able to achieve their full potential.

The team at Royal Children’s Hospital is honoured to be able to treat your children, support you through difficult decision making and be a small part of your lives to help your children achieve and inspire us as surgeons to be the best we can be for you.

We are entering exciting times with discussions taking place around the creation of Australia’s first Congenital Hand Difference Registry. My colleagues and I are delighted to be part of this project. We know that the Registry will provide vital information about congenital hand differences. We thank you for entrusting us to care of your kids. Your kids are the ones who really inspire us.