Miracle transplant gives a woman new hope

July 28, 2009 9:41:59 PM PDT
Surgeons have completed an amazing transplant on a 24-year old woman, left disfigured by a shooting. They're giving her a new lease on life by giving her a new nose.Brandy Elias used to wear a bandage over the place where he nose used to be. It was destroyed in 2004 by bullets fired during a drive-by shooting in her native Guyana.

"I was in the hospital for a month and two days," Elias said.

Two dozen surgeries later, Brandy was brought to NYU Medical Center to complete a modern surgical miracle. On her left forearm, doctors built her a new nose, complete with nostrils held open by red plastic rods. It was surgically attached to the center of Elias' face. The vessels were connected to others and the bone became the bridge of her new nose.

"She has an excellent prognosis of having a nose she doesn't have to hide anymore and that will function very normally for her," said Dr. Minas Constantinides of NYU Medical Center.

The normal nose was the hope of Jeremiah Drake, a New York artist, whose passion is helping abused women find medical care. An article on Drake appeared in the paper, catching the attention of Elias' godfather.

"Brandy's Godfather read the story, came to the church where I am an artist in residence, and asked me for help," said Drake.

Drake reached out to Dr. Constantinides. The result of their collaboration is a sculpted nose made from a piece of arm bone with blood vessels attached.

Even though attaching the nose is the central part of her treatment, this is not the last surgery for Elias. Other surgeries will be needed to will trim off excess skin and create a more normal looking nose.

"There are always refinement procedures that are required," said Dr. Mark DeLacure, of NYU Medical Center.

Brandy will be able to breathe more easily and smell again for the first time in five years. More importantly, her facial bandage will be gone.

"People won't be staring all the time," said Elias. "I can't wait to stop wearing [the bandage] so people will stop asking a lot of questions."


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