This month starts something new on the blog. We will be following the cosmetic reconstruction case of an amazing girl named Brandy Elias. Over two years ago Dr. Constantinides was asked to consult on a case involving a young girl from Guyana named Brandy Elias. She was the victim of a drive-by shooting in 2004. This was a completely random act of violence and in no way was Brandy targeted. She was shot six times with two of the bullets hitting her in the face. The multiple gunshots removed most of her nose and damaged her sinuses so that her eyes continuously tear. Brandy is a remarkable young woman who was introduced to Dr. Constantinides by Mr. Jeremiah Drake, an artist and instructor at the Riverside Church in New York City.
Mr. Drake and Dr. Constantinides had met several years ago in 2006 when he was in search of a facial plastic surgeon to speak with regarding women in his community that had been victims of domestic violence. Jeremiah is known for his art project called Restoring the Icon and visual arts series called The Slashing of the Icon. These are his artistic statements on domestic and social violence which causes facial and bodily disfigurement. He had contacted the main offices of Face to Face and was directed to the Domestic Program. Face to Face is the pro bono arm of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery which is dedicated to treating women with domestic violence injuries, traveling to countries such as Vietnam, China, and Russia to name a few where surgery is performed by members of the AAFPRS on local people who would be unable to afford or have reconstructive or cosmetic surgery to correct facial defects. The director of the Domestic Program referred Jeremiah to Dr. Constantinides. They spent some time talking on the phone about ways in which Dr. C. could be of help to his community. Several days after their discussion Jeremiah saw an article in the Daily News about a young woman named Roshauna Tate. Roshauna was slashed in the face by her boyfriend during a murder/suicide attempt. After slashing Roshaunas face he dove into New York Harbor with their 9 month old son Nacir in an attempt to drown them both. A NYPD officer jumped in after them and was able to save Nacir but unable to save the boyfriend. He had two thoughts at the time. The first was to contact Roshauna and the second was to have her consult with Dr. Constantinides.
During one of Roshaunas follow-up visits with Dr. Constantinides, Jeremiah showed him pictures of Brandy. Immediately he knew that she was someone he could be help if she was able to come to New York. Two years have now passed and Roshaunas facial scars have been repaired along with two large keloidal masses that have been removed from her ears. She is engaged, attends cosmetology school, and has recently celebrated Nacirs 2nd birthday.
Jeremiah was interviewed by the Daily News after Roshaunas surgery. In the article he mentioned Dr. Constantinides and the success of Roshauanas surgical outcome. The story came out on November 22, 2006. Soon after it was printed Mr. Drake met with Brandys godfather, Mr. Bobby Bowden. He had heard about Dr. Constantinides successful work with Roshauna and his collaboration with Jeremiah. The story gave him hope that he had found two people who would bring Brandy some closure and more importantly help her to heal inside and out.
After agreeing to take on Brandys case Dr. Constantinides entered her into the Langone NYU Medical Centers International Services Program. Through the incredible and exhaustive efforts of Mr. Drake, Maria Corbo who is the Director of the International Services Program, The Office of Congresswoman Yvette Clark, Dr. Constantinides, and our amazing office, the arduous process of petitioning the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Guyana began. They had to secure and help put in place the immigration visa for Brandy so that she could travel to the states for her reconstructive surgery with Dr. C.
Brandy arrived at JFK International Airport on Friday November 14, 2008 and is now here on a permanent visa.
Over the next few months Dr. Constantinides and his colleague Dr. Mark Delacure will perform surgeries on Brandy culminating in one final surgery to attach a nose to replace the bandage that she is using to cover the scars of her ordeal. There will be 3 surgical stages.
The first stage, which involved designing a skin flap on her left arm took place on Monday February 2, 2009 and was performed by Dr Mark Delacure.
The 2nd stage will take place about one month after this first surgery. The 3rd and final stage which is the major surgery will take place about one month after her second procedure. This final stage is where the free flap from the arm will be transferred to the face, the airway will be opened, and her left eye repaired, will be about one month after that. The dates of her next two surgeries are yet to be determined.
We will keep you all informed about Brandys progress as it becomes available to us. Along with that information we will post photos of the step by step evaluation and progress from beginning to end of this remarkable reconstructive process.
We look forward to any comments you may have and words of support for Brandy as well.