7-year-old girl gets new face from Cohen in time for Father’s Day

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7-year-old girl gets new face from Cohen in time for Father’s Day
Savana Patterson, 7, had cranial reconstruction from the Cohen Children's Medical Center after a 2017 accident in Ghana left her with severe damage. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

The team at Cohen Children’s Medical Center gave Issac Patterson the best early Father’s day gift he could’ve asked for – a fixed face for his daughter Savana.

“I can’t thank you enough for taking care of my daughter,” Patterson said at a press conference Thursday. “When this first happened, I put my faith in the Lord and in medicine. I hope Dr. [Nicholas] Bastidas continues to be blessed with the wisdom to help every other child the way he helped my daughter.”

Nearly 11 days after her surgery, Patterson’s 7-year-old daughter, Savana, joined him and and Bastidas, the plastic surgeon who operated on Savana, to discuss the cranial surgery.

The surgery followed an accident on January 15, 2017, when Savana was hit by a truck while waiting for a school bus in Ghana where she had been living with her paternal grandmother since birth.

It was a day that Patterson said he expected to be joyful.

Dr. Nicholas Bastidas used 3D printed models to aid in the reconstruction.
(Photo by Rebecca Klar)

It was his son’s birthday, he said.

Unfortunately, it was also the day Savana was left in a medically-induced coma for six weeks and with significant damage to her skull, left eye socket and underlying brain.

Another 12-year-old girl was hit in the accident; she did not survive, Patterson said.

In March, Patterson brought Savana  to the United States, to live with him in Floral Park, permanently.

Patterson said he was thankful to the doctors in Ghana who helped keep Savana alive, but wanted the cranial reconstruction to be done in America where the medicine and technology is more advanced.

Savana’s injuries were so severe her brain could be seen pulsating from beneath her skin, Bastidas said.

The procedure was done using 3D printed models of Savana’s skull.

“This technology is precise to within 1-millimeter of the virtual plan; its use allowed me to replace the eye socket and cover the deformity,” he said.

Rather than using a titanium or other foreign material, Bastidas used portions of the back of Savana’s undamaged skull to reconstruct the front he said.

This method is preferred with young patients, like Savana, as it allows their own tissue and bone to grow with them, Bastidas said.

Going forward the only surgeries Savana will need would be optional for cosmetic reasons, Bastidas said.

She’s free to do any activity any other 7-year-old would, other than playing contact sports for six weeks, Bastidas said.

Bastidas called Savana’s speedy recovery a “miracle,” noting that Savana wanted to go home two days after her surgery.

“She really sort of expounds the idea of what a person who has the will to do get better can do,” Bastidas said. “She’s just such a beautiful and passionate young girl with a great future.”

Savana, all smiles on Thursday, said she was happy and thankful for the doctors and nurses who helped her at Cohen.

A new face isn’t all Savana received from her Northwell team, though.

She was also gifted a dictionary, which she said is exactly what she wanted, so she can learn more and, one day, be a doctor herself.

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