New York, NY (October 29, 2004) -- Ophthalmic surgeons at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary successfully completed the first step in a two-stage, complex eye implant operation for ten-year-old Anya Kadalanova, who lost an eye from shrapnel that then lodged near her brain during the September 2004 hostage takeover of a school in Beslan, Russia, in which 300 were killed.
Photo: Dr. Robert Della Rocca and Anya Kadalanova
“We have successfully reconstructed her damaged eye socket,” said Robert Della Rocca, MD, chief of ophthalmic plastic & reconstructive surgery at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and the surgeon who performed the operation. “That’s the first and most important step in the operation, and we are very pleased with the results,” he said. Dr. Della Rocca performed the reconstructive surgery using a specially crafted implant of biocompatible materials based on coral and donor tissue.
Within the next six weeks, a customized prosthesis, or false eye, will be fitted, according to Dr. Della Rocca. It will match her normal eye’s color and be attached to eye muscles so that it will move, at least in part, in sync with her good eye. The surgical procedures, which are not available in Anya's homeland, will be performed at no charge by the hospital and surgeons.
“Anya’s is a special case. We were deeply moved by her story and grateful to be able to help,” said Daniel Igor Branovan, MD, a Russian speaking surgeon at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary who helped orchestrate the visit and the charitable funding to cover expenses. “Just after the hostage takeover, as she came out of emergency surgery to remove her damaged eye in Russia, she was told that her mother had been killed and her sister wounded. So, her physical trauma was compounded by severe emotional trauma.”
Anya was accompanied to New York by her grandmother and Motya Chlenov, a representative of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, the key sponsor of the young girl’s visit. In the weeks to come, she will also be visited by her father and sister.
The surgery is one of a number performed free of charge by physicians at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. Dr. Branovan, for example, is the founder of an organization called Doctors Against Terrorism and previously performed surgery on an Israeli boy injured in a terrorist act in Haifa.
The expense for the prosthesis is being paid for by a fund established by Novoye Russkoye Slovo, a Russian language daily paper in New York, which has been accepting donations from New York’s Russian speaking community. Travel for Anya and her family was arranged by HelpTerrorVictims.org.
News media interested in more of Anya's journey from Beslan to Manhattan may contact Jean Thomas, at (212) 979-4274, or Axel F. Bang, at (914) 234-5433.
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