Raising his right hand over his face, Isaac Patterson's eyes welled beneath his red and black-rimmed glasses. His emotions were as erratic as an over-tired infant.
Through his West African accent, Mr. Patterson detailed a tragic January 2017 event that involved his 7-year-old daughter, Savana, while she lived with her grandmother in Ghana. A truck lost control and barreled into her and a 12-year-old girl as they waited for the school bus. Savana's skull and left eye socket were fractured. Her brain could be seen pulsating through the skin.
"The other girl didn't survive. She did," Mr. Patterson said, pointing to Savana. "January 15 was supposed to be a special day because it is my son's [Bryan] birthday. Unfortunately, it was a tragic day."
Disaster turned into joy more than a year later. Mr. Patterson decided not to seek Savana's facial reconstruction in Ghana, and instead brought her to his home in Floral Park. Soon, she met Nicholas Bastidas, MD, a pediatric plastic surgeon at Cohen Children's Medical Center. Dr. Bastidas performed the reconstructive surgery on June 4, giving back Savana's vibrant smile and boundless energy.
"She had a pretty significant brain injury," Dr. Bastidas said. "It's a miracle that she is here walking and talking, and able to recover the way she did. It's proof of her resilience."