A teenager from Tonga has undergone life-changing surgery thanks to a team of volunteers in Melbourne.
Surgeons removed a large tumour from the 19-year-old Silia Tupou’ila’s jaw during a risky eight hour operation at Cabrini Health in Malvern, in Melbourne’s east.
Ms Tupou’ila had a large tumour growing on her jaw, which had left her feeling excluded from her community in Tonga. However, the volunteer doctors changed her life by removing the growth.
Plastic surgeon Dr William Blake described the surgical mission.
“We removed that section of the jaw that’s got a large benign tumour in it and replaced that part of the jaw with a bone from her leg,” he said.
Despite putting on a brave face, Ms Tupou’ila had been living with extreme pain for five years.
“If she didn’t have this surgery her jaw would break,” Dr Blake said.
It was the trip of the life time for the teenager, who had not visited a large metropolis before.
“This is her first time out of Tonga, coming to Australia, and it’s her first time being in a city, in a hospital,” said Melanie Likos, assistant manager at the Children First Foundation.
After 20 days in recovery, Ms Tupou’ila is now ready to return to Tonga.
“When I’m getting back to Tonga, I’m going back to singing and looking forward to my jobs,” Ms Tupou’ila said.
“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling better, you know, I’m in a new life now.”