Monday, June 16, 2008
Indianapolis Girl Making Strides
Indianapolis, IN - In the spring of 2006, Amaya Hess was on life support, swollen, and her disfiguring wounds wrapped. When she first got to the hospital, she was missing the entire right side of her face, nose, ear, eye, everything was gone. A pit bull had snatched Amaya out of her stroller and had shaken the toddler like a rag doll before adults could get the animal to stop.
Amaya was still in a coma when plastic surgeons created a scalp for her with bio-engineered tissue. She did not wake up for 55 days. During this time, doctors continued surgical procedures, and like the family, prayed that Amaya would wake up. Amazingly, she did and was transferred to pediatric rehabilitation. In order to win a bed on this unit, a patient must be physically devastated. Amaya fit the bill.
After intensive therapy, she left the unit, but doctors were still unsure. "Two-year-olds are mainly interested in playing and being with other people. They are not too interested in how they look at this point," one said. That awareness starts a year later, when Amaya enters a developmental pre-school. The teacher introduces Amaya to the class and lets a classmate feel Amaya's head. The teacher says it feels just like the skin on your arm.
Dr. Sood plans to have Amaya's head covered with hair-bearing scalp by the time she reaches kindergarten. The process is called tissue expansion. Devices similar to breast implants are placed under Amaya's existing scalp and slowly filled with fluid. As the implant is filled over time, it stretches the tissue, just like in a pregnancy. It requires multiple procedures over the course of a year.
When complete, the plan is to pull the hair bearing scalp over the top of her head and stretch to Amaya's right ear and cover her scars. By the fall of 2007, Dr. Sood reports that two thirds of the area that didn't have hair is now covered with hair. He calls it a "major victory." Amaya likes the results too. She looks into the mirror and models her blond hair, turning around like a proud princess until she sees her scar.
Since the attack, Bobbie Jo says her daughter has "woke up, grown up, and is not letting anything hold her back." She is a four-year-old at play. She says, "I am not ashamed that she was attacked by a dog. I am not ashamed that she has one and a half eyes. I am not ashamed that she has one ear. You know, I am not ashamed at all that everyone turns around to look at us, because you are looking at an angel."
The entire Hess family are angels, as are the Indiana Plastic Surgeons that helped heal Amaya.Amaya Hess Trust Fund
45 N. Pennsylvania St.
Indianapolis, IN. 46204
11/09/09: Collection of Pit Bull Scalp Attack Victims - DogsBite.org
05/17/07: One Year After Amaya Hess Was Attacked by a Pit Bull
| 6/16/2008 9:07 AM |
Two years ago after Amaya's attack the public safety committee of the city-county council held a hearing to consider some form of BSL. The Indy Pit Crew, a group of pit bull owners, was asked to speak to the committee. The woman who headed the group referred to another little girl who was attacked by two bulldogs in a park at about the same time. This child was talking happily to the evening news.Amaya Hess had died twice on the way to the hospital and was in a medically induced coma. The pit bull advocate shrugged her shoulders referring to the the attacks,(these things happen) not mentioning the difference in injuries. The pit bull in Amaya's case had not been cruelly treated nor ever met a dog fighter. One pit bull advocate said she thought the dog needed more exercise. Can you imagine owning or wanting a type dog that will kill someone because of not enough exercise? I know, genetics don't count.
| 6/16/2008 11:24 AM |
Pit bulls are not worth it... not worth the pain, anguish and disfigurement these children suffer. We will never remove all life’s risks, but at the same time we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck on stupid. It’s pointless for communities to be reactive. Legislation doesn’t help victims after the fact.
Blessings to the forward thinking leaders who can shut the door on maulings BEFORE they have a pile of reports to reference. Every incident like this is another one too many.
| 2/01/2009 1:20 PM |
"Remarkable recovery: Girl mauled in 2006 ready for kindergarten in fall," by Heather Gillers
Amaya Hess will start kindergarten in the fall with 48 surgeries under her belt. The medication she takes is so powerful that her mother must check her blood pressure every day. And when the 4-year-old got a pair of earrings for Christmas, she had to stash one in a drawer.
Two and a half years ago, a pit bull bit off the right side of Amaya's face. She was with her mother, Bobbie Tomlin, on the way to a Near-Westside park when a man asked Tomlin for a cigarette, and she stopped to give him one. As the man -- Michael Hamilton, 24 -- went back into his house, his uncle's pit bull slipped out the door and lunged for Amaya, clamping his jaw around the toddler's head.
Tomlin, grabbed Amaya's feet, and for six harrowing minutes, "we were doing tug of war," said Tomlin, now 23.
When Hamilton finally pried the dog's jaws open with a hammer, Tomlin could see her daughter's skull. The pit bull had torn off her ear and pushed one eye so far back into her head that firefighters later looked for it in the yard. The dog had ripped Amaya's hair from her head.
"It looked like a toupee lying on the ground," Tomlin said.
A passing truck driver gave Amaya mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until emergency workers arrived. She spent three months in a coma.
Animal Care and Control euthanized Ozzie and another dog found at the Hamilton home.
In civil court, a judge banned both the uncle, 47-year-old Mark Hamilton, and Michael Hamilton from ever owning an animal. Michael Hamilton had to pay $550 and Mark Hamilton $1,000 in penalties for owner responsibility for animal attack and other violations.
A Marion County court judge tacked on six months of home detention for Mark Hamilton, who pleaded guilty in criminal court to not vaccinating his dog.
Efforts to contact both men were unsuccessful.
A vivacious child, Amaya has made a tremendous recovery. She started special education preschool at age 3 with the developmental capacity of an 18-month-old, Tomlin said. Now she is on track to start mainstream kindergarten in the fall.
But her mom knows she'll feel different from other kids. She has hearing loss in one ear, only peripheral vision in one eye, and scars across her scalp and the right side of her face.
"The question that everyone asks me," Tomlin said, "is 'how was she burned?' Well, she wasn't burned. She was attacked by a dog."
| 2/24/2009 3:45 PM |
Thank God for this site! There is SO much mis-information on the web now with the ten million and one "punish the deed, not the breed!" videos that it's scary. I know you must generate a terrifying amount of threatening hate mail, but I want you to know you're making a BIG difference.
| 10/13/2011 4:13 PM |
I am sorry Amaya. There are people out there that have heard your story and are working to advocate on your behalf.