Boy with no face gets life-changing surgery

Moroccan boy Yahya El Jabaly born with no nose, eyes, or functioning mouth given 18-hour life-changing surgery. Photo: Channel 7, YouTube.com
Moroccan boy Yahya El Jabaly born with no nose, eyes, or functioning mouth given 18-hour life-changing surgery. Photo: Channel 7, YouTube.com

A little Moroccan boy born with no eyes, nose or upper jaw has been given a second chance at life through reconstructive surgery.

Yahya El Jabaly was born in a tiny village near Tangiers. When he was born, 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 no upper jaw.

He was unable to speak properly and part of his skull had not been formed, leaving part of his brain only protected by skin.

Yahya’s story went viral after his friend’s parents went searching for help on Facebook. Fatima Baraka from Melbourne found the story and reached out to the family.

Baraka got Dr. Tony Holmes on board from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Holmes immediately expressed willingness to help. Holmes spent months preparing and making models of the boy’s skull so he could perform the high-risk surgery.

The family flew over from Morocco to Melbourne, and after a series of tests it was decided that Yahya would undergo surgery in December last year.

Prior to surgery, Holmes explained the risks of the operation: “Yahya 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 surgery was carried out in February 2015. It was expected to take 8 hours, but ended up taking close to 19 hours, with a team of surgeons working in rotation to remodel Yahya’s face.

Now four years old, Holmes revealed the results of Yahya’s surgery on Australia’s Sunday Night programme.

Yahya now has a new nose created from his excess skin. Cosmetic surgery will add cartilage. He has a new upper jaw and is undergoing speech therapy. Holmes said Yahya’s parents were overwhelmed at the result.

Georgia Dunstan-Brown
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