Emily Eccles split her jaw in two in in a horse riding accident in August and arrived at Sheffield Children’s Hospital with just one centimetre of skin keeping the lower part of her face attached to the top.
After nearly five hours of emergency surgery and after care at the hospital, Emily is now making a good recovery, with her family publicly praising her surgeon, Mr Ricardo Mohammed-Ali, for his efforts.
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They are also fundraising towards the cost of a helipad at the hospital as a thank you.
Recalling the horror fall, Emily, who attends Wales High School, said: “We’d been riding for a while when we came up to a gate onto the road. Then a car came round the corner and my horse started to gallop.
“We went round one corner to the left and I leant into it, then another to the right and this time, as I leant to that side, a wooden post smashed into the right side of my jaw. I think I was in so much shock that I didn’t feel much pain.”
Mr Mohammed-Ali, of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said Emily’s injuries are among the most serious he has dealt with on a child outside of a war zone.
“Emily's injury was significant in that the entire left side of her lower jaw from the front of the jaw to the joint was pulled away from the face and only retained by a small strip of skin,” he said.
“The nerves that supply sensation to the lip and chin was torn on both sides. Branches of the facial nerve that move the muscles of the lower lip were severed on both sides. The lower part of Emily's face was only attached by a piece of skin.”
Dr Mohammed-Ali added: “It could have been worse, but it is one of the most significant injuries that I have seen in a child outside of areas of conflict.”
Emily’s mum, Michelle, 50, described the results of the surgery as ‘miraculous’.
“With the air ambulance, she could’ve been taken anywhere but we were very lucky that Mr Ali was at Sheffield Children’s.
“We’re writing to the Queen to get him a knighthood.
"Being able to come home after such a horrific accident, 11 days on, is just testament to him and all the other professionals.
"We've tried to thank him and he's such an unassuming guy.
"He just smiles quietly and says 'I was just doing my job'."
Titanium plates were fitted to help rebuild Emily’ face.
She still has scarring, but it is hoped it will fade over time.
Mr Mohammed-Ali explained: “Emily will remain under my care for a long time. I will monitor the healing and growth of the lower jaw and treat accordingly. The scar will mature over 12 to 18 months and I will treat it depending on the appearance as it matures. I am extremely pleased with her recovery so far.”