Dr. Joan-Pere Barret
Plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgeon
When I was little, I wanted to be a cabinet maker like my father. I spent hours with him in his workshop, trying to give shape with my inexperienced hands to whatever piece of wood he gave to me. That’s how I made a boat, a car and even a camouflage aeroplane for my Famobil “clicks.” I really liked to make figures. I wanted to turn whatever material fell into my hands into something beautiful and useful. I was a very happy child. But there was one thing that changed my life forever and made me begin my journey to where I am today. Something as simple as a television program: the documentaries on science and medicine broadcasted over UHF. That’s when I realised that, with medicine, I could unite my two passions: science and hand-crafted art. I would be a doctor and a surgeon. I was just 9 years old. During my years of study, I had brilliant academic results which allowed me to study medicine with a scholarship at the University of Barcelona. This was a great relief for my parents, who were going through tough economic times at that moment. I still remember, quite emotionally, the day of my graduation – a very special moment for all of my family. During the final years of my studies, when I was already doing practical experiences at hospitals, I saw the immense possibilities that the speciality of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery provided. It was a speciality that would allow me to intervene in any part of the body, from head to toe – one that would allow me to recover tissue that the patient had lost, improving their quality of life; one that would allow me to sculpt and beautify… just like when I was a child. I traded the workshop for the operating room and inert pieces of wood for bodies with souls. I felt a great sense of responsibility but I also fully believed in my ability to assume that responsibility.
After passing the Resident Medical Intern Exam, I was able to start my speciality in the hospital and unit that I had always wanted. I did my speciality in the Vall d’Hebron Hospital, where I had the opportunity to work in the Burn Unit, thus discovering a passionate world that is full of scientific and medical challenges and of fascinating personal stories of triumph. After finishing my speciality, and now with my wife by my side, my curiosity for science and knowledge brought me to work outside of our country’s borders (the USA, the Netherlands, the UK). I built on my knowledge, acquired new surgical techniques and directed research projects in countries where science and innovation are a priority and where resources abound. These were years full of excitement; they were passionate and very fruitful times; but, not necessarily easy. In 2005, I decided that the time had come to return to my country. From my years abroad, I brought home, in my suitcase with me, a wide range of professional experience, a long list of friends, good personal experiences and, the most important of all, my daughter Júlia who had been born in Holland. My professional work in Spain is quite well-known. I have tried to bring to Spanish healthcare the experience that I acquired in my years abroad. I have used innovative techniques (surgery with stem cells, endoscopic techniques, face transplants, etc.) which have brought me to the front pages of many current news publications. I continue working each day to obtain surgical excellence while treating my patients with humanity and understanding. Physicians and surgeons should always remember that we’re people who help other people.
We must never lose our sense of humanity.