Shukria was a 5-year-old girl in Afghanistan when the unimaginable happened. She had a tooth extracted and suffered an infection in her lower jaw (mandible) that left her bedridden for a year; in and out of the hospital; and on and off different types of antibiotics. Due to the fact that her jaw was still growing during the infection, it left her disfigured as the left side of her mandible didn’t complete growth, and her Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) never formed. To compensate the mandible’s lack of growth the upper jaw (maxilla) grew asymmetrically and on a 45-degree angle (cant).
For the next ten years Shukria suffered with severe pain, inability to open the mouth and difficulty chewing and eating through food. Additionally, her appearance was a constant target for bullying.
Solace for the children is a non-profit organization, which brings children from areas affected by war to the United States so they may receive medical care unavailable to them in their country. The organization began bringing children from Afghanistan to the Lake Norman area of North Carolina in 2007, and it is the only organization to work in this way with Afghan children.
Prior to coming to the U.S. Solace connected with board certified oral maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Peter Franco to see if he was able to take on her case free of charge. “He didn’t even think twice” says Edina, Dr. Franco’s surgical coordinator, “He was all in from the very beginning”
Shukria first came to the US in the early spring 2018 for Dr. Franco’s evaluation, he obtained CT scans, photographs, x-rays, and models of her teeth. It became immediately clear that he was going to need the assistance of orthodontic therapy to level and straighten the teeth after he performed reconstructive jaw surgery.
Over the course of the next several months, Dr. Franco performed virtual surgical planning and the surgery was planned down to the hundredth of a millimeter. During the virtual planning, he realized that in addition to replacing the temporomandibular joint with a custom patient-specific ball and socket type joint, Shukria would require orthognathic (corrective jaw) surgery to correct her malformed jaw bones. Additionally, he had 3-Dimensional models printed to use and evaluate before and during surgery.
The surgery was performed in late summer 2018 and lasted about 5 hours. Shukria tolerated the surgery well and was talking and drinking the very first night. Shukria was in the hospital for 2 nights and was discharged and continued to follow up with Dr. Franco since the surgery. She has since returned to eating normal foods, is free of pain, able to open her mouth normally and is excited to take the next step in her care.
She has continued the next phase of her care through a continuation of orthodontic therapy. Dr. Franco and his team look forward to seeing Shukria and her beautiful smile this summer for a re-evaluation.
If you are interested in more information about Solace for the Children, please contact Patsy Wilson, 704.657.2374. Physicians, Dentists and Nurses are needed. Or, you may want to hear more about hosting a Solace child in your home or volunteering at an event.