On the morning of December 20th, 2018, the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) surgical team led by Dr. Kevin Bush and Dr. Erin Brown settled in for a long day. They would spend the next 14 hours taking the first steps to rebuild the face of Shakila Zareen.
Shakila was shot in the face by her husband in Afghanistan five years ago. She came to Canada as a refugee, and has settled in the Lower Mainland with her sister and mother. Together, they are rebuilding their lives. For Shakila, that means undergoing counselling, learning English and going to medical appointments.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Kevin Bush says the main goals of the surgery are to rebuild Shakila's cheekbone, the maxilla and put her prosthetic eye in the correct place. Shakila will need at least three surgeries.
Photo above: VGH surgical team working to rebuild the face of Shakila Zareen.
Photo below: Instructions describing maxilla marking guides.
“I am very excited and can't believe it's my surgery day," says Shakila as she is prepped for surgery. “I waited four years for this day… I am very hopeful for the surgery…it is the biggest day of my life."
Doctor Bush tells Shakila that it will be a long day, focussed largely on filling in the area under her eye. Dr. Brown will extract a small bone from Shakila's leg to help rebuild shattered bone – fragments of which are still lodged in Shakila's skull.
A 3-D printed skull acts as a reference guide for the surgical team.
Photo left: Dr. Erin Brown
Shakila is recovering well and looking forward to her second surgery in June.
Her journey is being chronicled by the CBC. Watch the video below.