Ask Dr. Mirko Gilardino what he loves about his job and he’ll tell you it’s the bond he builds with his young patients as well as their families.

On Thursday Gilardino, who is a plastic surgeon and head of the Montreal Children’s Hospital’s Craniofacial and Cleft Surgery team, was honoured with the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association of Montreal’s Person of the Year Award.

But Frank Saracino would argue the award falls a little short.

“For us, he’s the person of the decade,” said Saracino.

Saracino’s son, David, was born with a genetic disorder called Crouzon Syndrome. It causes certain skull bones to fuse prematurely, preventing the skull from growing normally.

When David was just nine years old, Gilardino performed a nine-hour surgery on him. Four years later, David is in good health.

Thinking back to that time, Saracino said he was struck by Gilardino’s patience, understanding and compassion, as well as his follow-up visits.