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Haitian teen has more surgery

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published July 15, 2006


MIAMI - A Haitian teenager whose face was once distorted by a 16-pound tumorlike growth has a new nose and is closer to having normal features after a third surgery, a doctor said Friday.

Marlie Casseus, 15, was in stable condition after a nearly nine-hour procedure to reconstruct parts of her face, including her eyes, nose and upper lip.

"I would say that the major reconstruction, the major risk, for surgery ... is already over," said Dr. Jesus Gomez, a University of Miami surgeon involved in the procedures.

Gomez said he was pleased with the results of Thursday's surgery at Holtz Children's Hospital, part of Jackson Memorial Medical Center. Doctors narrowed the separation between Marlie's eyes and formed the bridge of her nose and upper lip, Gomez said. She can now breathe through her nose and close her mouth, though not fully.

Marlie's features were severely misshapen by the growth that began about six years ago, brought about by a rare genetic disease that causes bone to swell and become jellylike. She was unable to eat or speak when she arrived in the United States in September, and doctors inserted a tube to help her breathe.

Surgery has helped her both physically and emotionally, said her mother.

Antoine said she sang God Bless America to her daughter and believed that if Marlie could speak she would sing as well.

Marlie's wish on her recent 15th birthday was to be able to "eat normally and go home." She enjoys video games, television and reading, especially cookbooks, Antoine said in a statement earlier.

In 17 hours of surgery in December and nine in January, doctors removed the facial mass in two stages. They rebuilt the interior of her nose and inserted metal plates to reconstruct her lower eye sockets, as well as a plate to recreate the joint that allows her to open and close her mouth.

Marlie will likely need two more major surgeries as well as dental reconstruction, Gomez said. Gomez estimated the total cost of the operations would be around $500,000.

[Last modified July 15, 2006, 00:14:44]


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