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.
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.