Zoubir Lahdodi, 18, of Morocco was born with a venous malformation, a life-threatening facial growth that eventually grew to engulf most of his face and pushed his lips and tongue outward making it increasingly difficult for him to eat, sleep, speak and even breathe. Besides being visually disturbing and diminishing his quality of life, the growth was a dangerous “ticking time bomb” that could rupture due to the slightest facial injury causing the teen to bleed to death. But now after undergoing seven major surgical procedures at Lenox Hill Hospital he will finally be able to live a normal life.
“At a certain point I lost all hope in life,” said the teen, “but now I feel like a newborn just starting my life. I am grateful to Dr. Waner and his team, and Lenox Hill Hospital.”
After years of fruitless attempts to find a doctor who could perform a life-saving surgery to remove the growth, Zoubir’s family learned about Milton Waner, MD, Director of the Vascular Birthmarks Institute and Clinical Director of the AVM Center of New York at Lenox Hill Hospital, a world-renowned surgeon specializing in the treatment of vascular anomalies. After seeing pictures of Zoubir and hearing his story, Dr. Waner knew that he could help, and arranged to fly the teen and his mother 3,600 miles from Casablanca to New York City for treatment.
Over the course of eight months, Zoubir had undergone seven major operations, including procedures to remove parts of his tongue, lower lip, left cheek, and left upper eyelid. Since Zoubir’s family couldn’t afford to pay for the expensive surgeries and post-op care, Dr. Waner, his team, and Lenox Hill Hospital covered all medical expenses. Dr. Waner’s charity foundation also covered the flight and living expenses for both Zoubir and his mother.
Though he may need some corrective plastic surgery in the future, according to Dr. Waner Zoubir’s face is no longer a “ticking time bomb” and he can finally begin living a normal life, including returning to his love for stunt bike riding. “Venous malformations as extensive as Zoubir’s are not compatible with a normal lifespan and, in fact, are almost uniformly fatal if not treated,” said Dr. Waner. “He is now in a much safer situation and he looks a lot better.”
Dr. Waner and another member of Zoubir’s surgical team, Dr. Teresa O, Co-Director of the Facial Nerve Center at Lenox Hill Hospital, surprised the teen with a parting gift – a new stunt bike, which they said he can now safely ride, as long as he wears a helmet. Zoubir is excited to start the New Year as a whole new person and can’t wait to surprise his family and friends with his new look when he returns home.