Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Stabbed 100 times, woman gets new lease on life thanks to volunteer plastic surgeons

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Stabbed more than 100 times by an ex-boyfriend, Ilianexy Morales would see harsh reminders of the attack every time she looked in the mirror. Now, thanks to the work of volunteer plastic surgeons, Morales can now hold her head high. After 17 surgeries, including one to reattach her partially-severed arms, Morales can now move on with her life after the 2005 attack.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Face to Face, the charitable arm of the American Academy of Facial, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery pooled their skills to aid the New York resident.

"It has really, really changed my life," Morales says. "Before, I was extremely shameful to be around people. [The surgery] seemed like a dream but it was real."

While in her twenties, Morales met the man who would become her attacker. The couple soon began a serious relationship and he offered to support her family. Her boyfriend encouraged her to give up work as a medical assistant so she could care full-time for her then four-year-old daughter and her bed-ridden mother, ABC News reported.

After three years of the emotionally abusive relationship, she told him it was over and that she was leaving him for good. Her boyfriend later stabbed her dozens of times in a frenzied attack.

Authorities arrived and arrested the boyfriend, who is now serving a 15-year prison sentence.

Left with scars over her face, Morales had a highly visual reminder of the vicious attack. "I didn't look like me," she told TV reporters. "I would hide a lot. I felt really ashamed of myself even though it was not my fault.

"I... accepted what had happened. My main problem was seeing myself in the mirror. When I saw all the scars, I felt like I was looking at another person."

Face to Face, based in Alexandria, Virginia began working with Morales in 2010. Face to Face gives around 1,500 surgeries each year to women who have been victims of domestic abuse, helping those who have suffered acid attacks, gun shot wounds and broken jaws and noses.

Doctors work with local shelters to find women who cannot afford the surgery or the associated fees. In order to qualify, women need to have undergone therapy and have been out of the abusive relationship for some time.

Dr. Andrew Jacono, a New York City facial and reconstructive surgeon, was the doctor who donated his skills to perform seven hours of surgery on Morales' face and neck.

Using "flap surgery," Jacono took skin from other parts of her body to cover the scars. He said the results were "beautiful" and "gave her a lot of confidence."

Morales said that thanks to Jacono, her life has changed immeasurably. As well as her facial and neck surgery, she also got new teeth from a New York dentist, Dr. Laura Torrado.

Morales is currently in a stable relationship and works as a professional makeup artist.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)