COACHELLA, Calif. -- An Inland Empire toddler has her smile back, six months after an attack by a family dog left her face severely disfigured.
In August, Mariah Salomon was airlifted to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital after the dog mauling, with pieces of her nose and upper lip packed in ice.
Doctors there had to perform intense, delicate surgery to reattach her face, a procedure which they described as unprecedented for the age of the patient.
"When we got the call it had already been three hours, and so we knew we were up against the clock," said Dr. Nathaniel Peterson.
He worked with Dr. Paul Walker to reattach Mariah's delicate facial arteries and try to restore blood flow to her face.
The successful surgery took five hours. Afterwards, in the pediatric intensive care unit, nurses administered leeches to help with the blood flow.
By the eighth day, doctors were able to stop the leeches and observe that the tissue was not turning purple, meaning small new veins were growing in the injured area.
Three weeks later, Mariah was sent home for recovery.
Now her grateful mother, Veronica Pena, says the girl is like any other 2-year-old - happy and loving to laugh and scream.
"For these two wonderful doctors to say we're going to do it - Mariah was blessed to have them by her side," Pena said.
California toddler gets smile back after dog mauling
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