Thanks to pro bono facial surgery and services donated by Schneider Children's Hospital (SCH), a 17-year-old orphan from Ghana, West Africa is gaining self-confidence and a getting a new start on life.
Adwoa Frimpomaah, was referred to Andrew A. Jacono, MD, FACS Section Head of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at North Shore University Hospital, for surgery to reconstruct a new ear and repair facial scars. She was seriously injured in a pedestrian-car accident in Ghana in 2004 while walking to a nearby village; the driver fled the scene and the accident was never investigated. The collision ripped off half of her scalp on the right side, leaving her with no hair, massive scars on her right cheek and two-thirds of her right ear destroyed. Her legs were broken and her teeth knocked out.
Following the accident, Adwoa spent four months in a Ghanese hospital, but because of the limited availability of medical and surgical care in her homeland, facial reconstruction was out of the question. In July 2006, Adowa was put in touch with Dr. Jacono by a small American outreach group, Beyond Our Borders, based in St. James, NY and headed by Vic and Jean Valente. Dr. Jacono is a participating volunteer surgeon with the nonprofit group. Adwoa lives with Mr. and Mrs. Valente, her sponsors.
Dr. Jacono and Schneider Children's Hospital (SCH) waived the fees for the 6 1/2-hour surgery, which took place in December 2006, one day before Adwoa's 17th birthday. To reconstruct Adwoa's ear, Dr. Jacono harvested her "floating rib" from her left rib cage and cartilage to create the rim of her ear. Because of severe trauma to the skin on her scalp, Dr. Jacono performed a complex flap reconstructive procedure to cover the new framework of the ear and used a skin graft from Adwoa's leg to cover the top part of her ear. Dr. Jacono performed a second surgery in May, which separated the flap and created a natural groove behind her ear with another skin graft. He also performed a modified face lift to reduce facial scarring.
"When Dr. Jacono approached Schneider Children's Hospital about helping Adwoa after her horrific accident, we did not hesitate to help her," said Philip Lanzkowsky, MD, executive director of SCH. "Adwoa had already lost so much; the surgery was something tangible that we could provide to make her life better. Improving the health and well-being of children is the mission of the Children's Hospital and it crosses all geographic and political boundaries."
"Although Adwoa's condition did not present any major functional disturbances, facial disfigurement is traumatic and psychological scars can last a lifetime," said Dr. Jacono. "The reconstructive surgery has restored Adwoa's self-esteem. She is like most teenagers - very self conscious about her looks - and it is a great joy to see her happy again."