Trini-born surgeon in UK hailed as hero

A Tri­ni-born sur­geon prac­tis­ing in Eng­land is be­ing hailed as a hero by many for suc­cess­ful­ly re­con­struct­ing the jaw of a 15-year-old girl fol­low­ing a horse-rid­ing ac­ci­dent.

Con­sul­tant Oral & Max­illo­fa­cial sur­geon based at Sheffield Teach­ing Hos­pi­tals and an Hon­orary Se­nior Clin­i­cal Lec­tur­er at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sheffield, Ri­car­do Mo­hammed-Ali, suc­cess­ful­ly re­con­struct­ed the jaw of Emi­ly Ec­cles when it broke in half in Au­gust.

 

Speak­ing on the show “BBC Break­fast” on Fri­day, Ec­cles ex­plained that her jaw was at­tached to her body on­ly by a bit of skin and the hel­met she was wear­ing at the time.

Ec­cles’ in­jury was de­scribed by doc­tors as the worst they’ve seen out­side of a war­zone.

Al­so ap­pear­ing on the show was Mr Mo­hammed-Ali who ex­plained: “I got a call from one of my ju­niors, which was a bit odd that said we’ve got a pa­tient that is com­ing in and their jaw has been sep­a­rat­ed from their face.”

“It’s not of­ten you get a call like that. You get a frac­tured mandible, or a frac­tured cheek­bone, up­per jaw, low­er jaw,” he said.

 

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Elab­o­rat­ing on the ex­tent of Ec­cles’ con­di­tion in an in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, he said time was of the essence to the suc­cess of the surgery. “The jaw was split in two and the left side was com­plete­ly sep­a­rat­ed from the face. The low­er part of the face was de­tached from the rest of the face ex­cept for a strip of skin on the right side. The nerves that move the lip and pro­vides feel­ing were sev­ered. I had to re­con­struct bone, mus­cles, nerves and re­store blood sup­ply. If not the low­er part of the face would have not sur­vived. The surgery was time crit­i­cal to en­sure sur­vival of the tis­sues. We ba­si­cal­ly re-im­plant­ed the low­er face.”

Eight weeks lat­er Ec­cles is able to speak, how­ev­er, she ad­mit­ted on the BBC show that she can’t feel the bot­tom lip prop­er­ly as “it’s like pins and nee­dles be­cause of the nerves be­ing dam­aged and ripped out but oth­er than that, it’s be­come nor­mal now.”

Her re­cov­ery, Mo­hammed-Ali said, was re­mark­able. “On the third of Oc­to­ber it was two months and the swelling has gone down, the jaw is func­tion­ing, she is back to eat­ing and drink­ing as nor­mal.”

With such a re­mark­able re­cov­ery, many have hailed Mr Mo­hammed-Ali a hero, dub­bing his work as a mir­a­cle.

Asked by Guardian Me­dia if he felt like a hero, he said: “I am just do­ing my job and priv­i­leged that I am able to re­con­struct faces and treat pa­tients with fa­cial de­for­mi­ties.”

Mr Mo­hammed-Ali was born in Trinidad and left for Eng­land af­ter stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI). He has been re­sid­ing in the UK for the past 16 years.

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Story by RISHARD KHAN

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