x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Surgeons provide girl with a new face and new life

For the first time in her life, a 14-year-old Jordanian girl can breathe through her nose - the result of a 17-hour surgery performed for the first time at Al Qassimi Hospital.

SHARJAH // For the first time in her life, a 14-year-old Jordanian girl can breathe through her nose - the result of a 17-hour surgery performed for the first time at Al Qassimi Hospital. Dana Mahad suffers from Crouzon syndrome, which causes skull abnormalities. In Dana's case, her nasal bones and cartilage had become fused and her facial structure deformed.

In the procedure late last month, called a Le Fort III osteotomy, doctors removed much of her skull and reset it, directing future growth with a network of bone grafts, titanium plates, elastic bands and steel wire. As a result, the teenager can now breathe and eat with ease, and her eyes are set more comfortably in her face. "I am very grateful for the doctor. I wish I would give him something in return," said Dana, a student at Al Ahli Charitable Schools.

Future surgery will further readjust her nose and improve its appearance, said Dr Mark Karas, a maxillofacial specialist who performed the operation with two local surgeons. "We couldn't do all the operations at one time," he said. "We can now as well do the nose operation after six months and she will look like any other normal beautiful girl." Dr Saqer al Mualla, head of the plastic surgery department, praised Dr Karas for performing a surgery that is rare in the UAE.

"Usually such a surgery is followed with a number of surgeries before one is completely normal, but Dana would have to undergo only one more surgery for the nose - this is a big credit to all of us," Dr al Mualla said. Dana's father, Mahad Fareed Abdul Aziz, said Dana was born disfigured and has had health problems since birth. "Health personnel told us the lower jaw was bigger than the upper jaw, and that the operation for this would only be done once she is more than 10 years," he said.

In Jordan, doctors told them they would have to travel to Europe for the procedure. But when Mr Abdul Aziz got a job at a contracting company in Dubai three years ago and brought his family to Sharjah, they began taking Dana to Al Qassimi. "We just put all our trust to God and said 'go ahead'," said Dana's mother, Suhail. Dr Karas had performed 10 similar operations in Poland before Dana's. Although such surgery would cost up to Dh100,000 in Europe, Al Qassimi performed it for free.

ykakande@thenational.ae