Organization Provides Reconstructive Surgery for Abuse Victims | NBC Southern California

Organization Provides Reconstructive Surgery for Abuse Victims

One organization helps victims of domestic violence with probono reconstructive surgery

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Saundra was brutally beaten by her ex-husband, permanently disfiguring her. Thanks to an organization called Face Forward, she is getting pro bono plastic surgery. www.facela.net (Published Monday, Aug. 8, 2011)

    One woman, a victim of domestic violence was savagely attacked by her now ex-husband.

    Thanks to one organization, she gets a second chance.

    Saundra was attacked and left in the street unconscious. Bacteria developed and ate away at her face. An internal infection and gangrene disfigured her.

    "My mouth has been closed to this extent for so long," said Saundra. "The dentist can't get into it. And this eye, it never closes. It hasn't closed for 20 years."

    Saundra is now undergoing facial reconstructive surgery thanks to a husband and wife team. Deborah Alessi is the founder of Face Forward, an organization dedicated to helping domestic violence victims who are left with physical reminder of their abuse.

    "If you have scars or a broken nose, or in Saundra's case, if you're constantly reminded of what happened to you and if no matter where you are, the inside or the outside, you're going to be reminded," said Alessi. "You're going to remember every day."

    Her husband, plastic surgeon and biochemist Dr. David Alessi is donating his services to provide Saundra some physical relief.

    "For Saundra, what our plans are is to get her eye to close better so that it's not weeping and tearing constantly," said Dr. Alessi. "To get her mouth open so that she can eat better and improve some of the bulkiness that she has (near her chin)."

    Saundra has already undergone many procedures prior to getting help from Face Forward. Dr. Alessi is now beginning the first stage of potentially 29 more procedures, most of which will be smaller scar revisions and laser treatments.

    "It takes people that want to give you a chance," said Saundra. "In this life, sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. I was very fortunate to have that and people that just took a chance on me."

    Saundra is at peace knowing she will never look like she did before. She just hopes that she will be able to live a little more comfortably.

    "It matters that you speak out, it matters that you help, it matters that you care," she said.

    Face Forward has helped 13 patients since 2008, providing reconstructive relief at no expense to the patient. They have provided pro bono services for women and children to recover from acid burns, lacerations, and blunt force trauma.

    If you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence and may need reconstructive help, you can visit Face Forward on their website at www.facela.net.