New York City doctors perform life-changing surgery for 3-year-old girl

STATEN ISLAND (WABC) -- Doctors from Staten Island University Hospital are helping a young girl from Ecuador to lead a more normal life.

3-year-old Betsaida was born with birth defects which caused her to have trouble breathing and eating.

"Betsaida was born with this really extensive congenital deformity where she was basically missing one side of her face, it was completely open," Dr. Lydia Lam said.

Betsaida was born with no right eye and without much of the bone or flesh on the right side of her face and was only able to eat through a feeding tube.

"It's a very dramatic appearance that she had before. You were able to see her teeth with her at rest and basically her entire throat," Dr. David Hoffman said.

"Here was this baby that really didn't walk, didn't eat, only stayed in her mother's hands," Dr. Steve Yusupov said.

The doctors at SIUH performed life-changing surgery to close the hole in her face.

"If you see her, she basically has a face. She's able to open and close a mouth now," Dr. Lam said.

The girl's mother, AnaBella Ramirez, said the procedure seemed impossible and that she thought her daughter was going to die.

The two came to the U.S. from Ecuador specifically for the surgery.

They were connected with SIUH through Northwell Health, which goes on mission trips to South America and identifies children who they can help.

Northwell Health donated the medical expertise while the Global Medical Relief Fund took care of the visas, travel, housing and everything else.

Ramirez said she is grateful to God for sending them to help her daughter.

This the just the first of many reconstructive surgeries.

She'll likely have one every year until she's 21.

At least now, everyone can smile.
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