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.
Please visit the Amaya Hess Twitter page to learn how to make a donation.
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