Surgery on Egyptian girl's rare birth defect successful

LOS ANGELES

When parents of 16-month-old Egyptian girl Rokaya Mohamed would bring their daughter out in public, people in Cairo would give her hurtful stares. Rokaya was born with a rare variant of a cleft palate. She had two mouths and two jawbones. Now a month after surgery, we're checking in to see her results.

Rokaya was born with two mouths, but she could barely eat.

Doctors checked up on Rokaya a month after her surgery to correct a very rare birth defect.

When she was born, doctors told her parents she wouldn't survive, but on a liquid diet, Rokaya fought on.

Yet her family encountered more struggles. In Cairo, surgical help was not available. Through the aid of numerous agencies, including Operation Smile, Mending Kids International and Children of War, Rokaya underwent 12-hour marathon surgery at Children's Hospital L.A.

A team of specialists painstakingly reconstructed her face and jawbone.

"We used the duplicate mandible and maxilla in order to rebuild the foundation of the left side of her face, and then we used the duplicate left mouth in order to make her a beautiful smile," said Dr. William Magee, Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

As a result, Rokaya has been transformed. She has a beautiful smile. For now, she is still on a soft diet, but soon she'll be eating solid foods, doctor say.

She's going to need numerous more surgeries throughout her lifetime, but doctors say she is off to a good start.

"We had one chance of making this right," said Magee. "We worked very hard in the pre-operative phase to make sure that things would go well, so we're very happy with the results."

"I hope that she'll find a career, possibly as a doctor, or whatever it is that honors her life and her existence," said Rokaya's father Tamer Mohamed, through an interpreter.

"She's a tough little girl, and she's done very well," said Magee. "We wish the family a very, very safe journey home."

Rokaya will spend Thanksgiving here and return home the first week of December.

Magee says surgeons from the U.S. will be helping their Egyptian counterparts handle the rest of her medical care.

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