South African Surgeons to Reconstruct Face of Boy, 9, Following Hyena Attack

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Plastic surgeons in South Africa have offered to reconstruct the face of a nine-year-old Zimbabwean boy mauled by hyenas in Zimbabwe last month.

Rodwell Khomazana was attacked during a night-time church service just outside of Harare on May 2. He lost his nose, left eye, most of his upper lip during the attack. Khomazana also lots pieces of his forehead.

“When she mentioned the story of this poor child mauled by a hyena I couldn’t say no,” plastic surgeon Ridwan Mia told AFP earlier this week.

Local doctors tried to stabilize the child’s condition and repair what damage they could, but limited resources meant there was little they could do. The outlook looked grim for a moment as Rodwell’s family could not afford specialized surgery only available abroad. But his mother, determined to acquire specialist help for her son, reached out to medics in South Africa, which borders the country.

The doctors agreed to operate on him for free in a private Johannesburg clinic. Her son was soon flown to Johannesburg on Saturday, where the hospital greeted their newest patient, singing South Africa’s national anthem.

Several staffers wore white T-shirts with “Team Rodwell” emblazoned across the front, as well as a sketch of him.

Mia and his team will perform exploratory surgery on Monday before scheduling the complete surgery. Medics will use tissue from other parts of his body to reconstruct his jaw, nose, mouth and cheeks. Rodwell will also be fitted with a prostatic eye in the surgery, which is expected to last 20 hours.

“Unfortunately he will have multiple scars on his face,” said Mia. “What we are hoping to do is a procedure where we minimize… the scarring, adding that Rodwell “will never have a completely normal, unscarred face.”

Mia made world headlines in 2011 for his cutting-edge skin grafts on a toddler who suffered third-degree burns on 80% of her body.

“I’ve done quite a few pro bonos over the years, especially with kids,” says Mia. “You know, you look at kids and you think, well what if it was one of my own? I mean, this resonates with everyone. Yes, I do have kids; my daughter is two years and seven months old, and my son is seven months.”

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