A four-year-old Moroccan boy who was born with no nose or eyes, without a functioning mouth and missing parts of his skull, has been given life-changing surgery to reconstruct his face.
Yayha El Jabaly was born in a village near Tangiers, but the bones in his face failed to form properly in the womb, leaving him with a hole in his face where his nose would have been, no eyes and an upper jaw turned upwards and outwards. He was unable to speak properly and the upper part of his skull at the place of his forehead had not been formed, leaving part of his brain only covered by skin.
Australia’s Channel 7 followed the story of Yayha after a Moroccan-born woman from Melbourne began helping the family, and unveiled the boy’s new face on its Sunday Night programme.
Yayha’s parents had tried to find a surgeon in Morocco that would help their son, but were repeatedly unsuccessful. When the family’s neighbour appealed for help on Facebook, Fatima Baraka, who was born close to Yayha’s village, began looking for a doctor in Australia who could perform the surgery.
Baraka travelled to Morocco to bring Yayha and his family to Australia, where the boy underwent 18-hour surgery at Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital, performed by Professor Tony Holmes.
Prior to surgery, Dr Holmes explained the risks of the operation: “Yayha may not die if we don’t operate, but he might if we do,” he told Channel 7. “This is cranio-facial neurosurgery at its extreme,” he said.
The programme documented the entire process and filmed Yayha’s parents’ reaction to the success of the operation. Dr Holmes said: “When they first saw him you could just tell that they were so stunned and so happy.”
The surgery has so far created a nose for Yayha out of his skin and formed an upper jaw. He will now undergo cosmetic surgery which will include adding cartilage to his nose.
Currently Yayha is unable to speak, but he is undergoing speech therapy as his vocal chords were kept intact and he will attend a school for blind children when he returns to Morocco, depending on his speech development.
Baraka had helped to raise funds to support Yayha’s surgery and the family will return to Morocco once the further operations have been completed.
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