Zimbabwe man whose face was disfigured by explosion gets life changing surgery in San Diego

Blessing Makwera has first of 3 surgeries Saturday

SAN DIEGO - A man from Zimbabwe is recovering from the first of three life changing surgeries at Sharp Hospital in Linda Vista. 

The hospital said Saturday's 15 hour surgery to repair 20-year-old Blessing Makwera's jaw wrapped up just after 9 p.m.

Video provided to 10News by Sharp Hospital showed Blessing Makwera being wheeled into the operating room Saturday morning. 

Amazing 3D imagery provided by Sharp showed what doctors had ahead of them.  Part of Makwera's jaw, teeth and tongue were blown away by an explosion in his home country of Zimbabwe in 2008. 

Dr. Joel Berger heads up the team of surgeons who said they had one goal, "To provide him with a functional smile, and the ability to chew, masticate and interact with his friends and family."

 On Thursday, Makwera took a tour of the San Diego Zoo.  But before he did, he talked to 10News about what the surgery will mean for him. 

"I believe in a few days, a few months or a few years from now they'll be like, oh that's Blessing without that questioning eyeing.  They'll just look at you without any confusion or questions to ask," he said.

In 2008, Blessing picked up an object with a couple of wires sticking out of it.  Curious as to what it was, he put it in his mouth and then used his hands to touch the wires to his cell phone battery.  It turns out the device was a mine detonator.  It exploded, leaving him disfigured. 

The first operation involved taking bone from Blessing's leg and reconfiguring it to replace the part of his jaw that's missing. 

"We expect that there will be at least two other procedures to end the final reconstructive process," Berger said.

When it's all over, probably in about eight months from now, Blessing said he wants to help others like himself. 

"Five years, 10years from now, I wish I could do the same for the other guys, or for anyone," he said.

The group Operation for Hope Worldwide got Blessing to San Diego.  Sharp, along with their doctors, are donating everything that he needs. 

The series of operations are expected to cost more than $1 million.

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