A very good looking man had half his face destroyed by a melon-size cancerous tumour. A surgeon has now carried out reconstructive surgery on his face with skin taken from his thighs, and though his face is not back to normal, it is now more presentable and easier to look at.
Tim McGrath, 38, encountered what doctors called the “worse case scenario” after an operation to remove his Synovial Sarcoma tumour left him unable to eat or drink. For more than a year after the rare soft-tissue cancer was removed, Tim was left with exposed flesh on half of his face. Tim, from Michigan, USA, said he was left heartbroken to see half of his face was taken away following the surgery to remove the tumour. But a genius doctor has come to his aid by giving him a terminator-style face transplant. Doctor Kongkrit Chaiyasate had heard about Tim’s plight and agreed to help him by reconstructing his face with skin from his leg and forearm. The reconstruction on his face will continue in 2018.
Tim said Dr. Chaiyasate gave him hope again after enduring more than one year of awkward stares and discomfort.
“I was covered in scars from previous surgeries which limited my options for reconstruction but we went ahead and the outcome has been incredible,” Tim said. “He reconstructed my face using skin and muscle from my left leg, left forearm, and a flap from my forehead, and skin graphs were used to help the healing process. I currently can’t drink liquid, eat through my mouth, or pronounce certain words, however, my quality of life has improved massively. There are people who stare at me, mostly children who don’t understand, but I would hope that others look past what they can see.
“My journey has been long and mostly inconceivable to most, but I have an amazing support group around me and I draw strength from them daily. I have been through something horrific, but if what I’ve gone through can inspire people to live their lives with gratitude for the things they take for granted then it makes what I’ve gone through all worth it.”
Tim was first diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in February 2014 after complaining of severe jaw pain. An MRI revealed an egg-sized tumour. Tim refused surgery and spent the following 18 months seeking none surgical alternatives. Sadly, the type of cancer he had is resistant to many things, including chemotherapy, and the tumour only grew bigger till it got to the size of a melon.
He recalled: “At the end of May 2015 the tumour doubled in size and I had to have a tracheotomy fitted to enable me to breathe and a feeding tube so I could eat, because the tumour had invaded the space in my mouth. Heavy doses of radiation caused the tumour to start dying and shrink and parts started to fall off. Eventually, I got my mouth back and I could eat very thin pieces of food. After the tumour shrank and the radiation treatment was over I had to wait a few weeks before they could remove the remaining mass.”
In October 2015, Tim was admitted to hospital where he remained for almost seven weeks following the initial 30-hour operation to remove and then reconstruct his face. He was shocked when he woke from surgery to find half his face gone. He became depressed, suffered numerous infection, and nearly gave up so many times until the top surgeon came to his aid.
The doctor wants him to take a year off to relax and gain his strength back while the swelling from the surgery goes down. There will be another next winter which will further help his speech and will give him the ability to eat and drink again.