Houston Surgeons Donate Reconstructive Surgery to Child

A four-year-old boy is recovering from a complex facial reconstructive surgery at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. The boy, named Daniel, was abandoned as a newborn and attacked by dogs. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, Houston surgeons offered to donate a series of operations to help restore Daniel's face.

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Four-year-old Daniel was born in Kenya and abandoned in a garbage heap. A dog found the newborn and attacked the baby, eating off nearly half of his face. He was rescued and treated in a Kenyan hospital, but the skin graft wasn't effective and turned into scar tissue. The Feed the Children organization brought him to the U.S. for treatment at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. Plastic Surgeon Dr. Sean Boutros was one of two surgeons who operated on Daniel.

"His entire face became distorted with this scar and it prevented the bone from growing properly. As a result, his face was twisted and deformed. When I knew this, I knew that we had to, not only reconstruct a portion of him, but the entire portion of him and that first operation would be to replace that tissue that was lost."

The surgical team operated on Daniel for nearly 12 hours to remove the scar tissue, repair the jawbone and graft new skin in place. This is the first of at least six operations required to reconstruct Daniel's face. The surgeons and Children's Memorial Hermann, are donating all of the services free of charge.

"Daniel will never look like he never had an injury. But we want to make it so where Daniel doesn't look in the mirror every day and say 'my face is broken.' That people -- he could walk down the street and people won't stare."

Feed the Children Founder Larry Jones is Daniel's legal guardian. He says it's hard to prepare a four-year-old to go through the pain of a procedure like this.

"I'm so excited, but at the same time I know that little body is, you know, is going to be having some difficult days ahead. But I -- we're looking at the end result. And we know that he's looking at the end result, which is, you know, 'my broken face is going to be fixed.' And I saw pictures last night and then this morning I went up there and what's happened is literally remarkable."

Daniel will remain in the hospital for another week as his surgeons monitor the skin graft. He'll return to Houston again in about two months for his next reconstructive surgery. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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