Chimpanzee attack victim to undergo rare surgery
Boy (8) left severely disfigured after fatal assault in Democratic Republic of Congo
A boy (8) left severely disfigured after being attacked by a group of chimpanzees is to undergo surgery in the US. File photograph: Catherine Abbott/ BBC/PA Wire
An eight-year-old boy left severely disfigured after a group of chimpanzees attacked him and two other boys as they played in the Democratic Republic of Congo is to undergo surgery in the US.
Dunia Sibomana survived the attack that claimed the lives of the other two boys in his native country.
However, his lips were ripped off and one cheek was torn apart during the assault, leaving him with muscle damage that makes it hard for him to eat, swallow and communicate.
Now, Dunia will have surgery at a Long Island hospital that will use tissue and muscle from his forearm to recreate both lips.
Dr Leon Klempner, an associate professor of dentistry at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, where Dunia will undergo the operation, said: “As you can imagine, not having any lips, the food can just come right out.
“He drools all the time and can’t pronounce different words.”
The planned eight-hour procedure will be the first of three major operations for Dunia, who was brought to the US from the Congo in November with the help of the non-profit foundation Smile Rescue For Kids.
Dr Alexander Dagum, the hospital’s chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery, said he believes there are only three other documented cases where the same surgery has been performed.
The hospital is covering the cost of the surgery and the doctors have all donated their time.
In his short time in the US, Dunia has been living with a host family on Long Island, attending elementary school and learning English in addition to his native Swahili.
Appearing for an interview with his doctors on Monday, Dunia buried himself in video games on a tablet and coloured with markers.
He occasionally stuck his tongue out at the doctors as they explained the procedure.
“We’re feeling very optimistic,” Dr Klempner said.
“We’re hoping after the surgery he’ll reintegrate into society and perhaps go back to school or have some semblance of a normal life.”