Yahya 'the boy without a face' returns home

Born without eyes, nose or a fully-formed mouth, Yahya had no chance of a normal life in his home country of Morocco but two years after a Melbourne woman took on his cause he is ready to start life as a normal little boy.

Fatima Baraka and a wonderful team of gifted Aussie doctors brought Yahya Jabaly to Australia for an incredibly complicated surgery to give him eyes, a nose and a fully formed mouth.

After 18 months in Australia, the five-year-old is returning home.

Yahya's recovered face after surgery
Yahya's recovered face after surgery

"There is a lot of mixed emotions for all of us…I am feeling terribly sad because I know I am going to say goodbye to him terribly soon," Fatima said.

"But at the same time I you know I am incredibly happy that I will be taking Yahya home to his family."

He still cannot see and is still learning to speak but, Incredibly, Yahya even managed to say 'thank you' to his surgeon, Professor Tony Holmes — the specialist who helped separate conjoined twins Trishna and Krishna.

Born in a tiny village near Tangiers, Yahya's skull bones failed to fuse in the womb and doctors didn’t expect him to survive long after birth due to the risk of infection.

WATCH: A new Face for Yahya


"We don’t know what causes it. It's sporadic, it’s not genetic and most kids would not survive pregnancy. But some do," Professor Holmes said.

"I don't think I don't think anyone who's got a major facial deformity, especially one that's grotesque really has much chance in this world."

What was expected to be an eight-hour surgery became an 18-hour marathon as the team of surgeons reshaped the delicate pieces of his skull.

Yahya before his surgery with his mother in Morocco
Yahya before his surgery with his mother in Morocco

The surgery and the moment Yahya's parents saw his new face aired on Seven's Sunday Night in 2015.

With one final operation to complete his nose — created using a piece of rib bone — he was given the all-clear to travel home again.

"I remember the day before we left his village, his aunty was saying goodbye to him and I had this thought "oh my god" the next time she sees him he is going to be a totally different kid," Fatima said.



When we first met Yahya his appearance was so confronting his mum and dad would not take him out unless he was covered up.

His only friend was five-year-old Heba, the little girl next door, who was waiting excitedly for her friend to return.

It was a happy reunion. Heba ran to her friend and kissed him on the cheek, just as she did when he left for Australia.

" I know that he recognised a lot of the voices and was quite happy to be hearing them again especially his little friend"

Yahya also has a little sister now, Amal, who was born while he was in Australia.

Professor Holmes said it was immensely satisfying work to give Yahya a face.

"I would imagine around about the age of seven or eight we would get him back and tidy things up a bit more as he grows," Professor Holmes said.

"It was very exciting, I mean it's this is my whole career, and whenever you have a patient who is successful and you see them happy it really is a big buzz."

Fatima has started a foundation to help other children in need in Morocco to access medical help.

"I'm so honoured and I'm so blessed to have been able to be a part of Yahya's life changing journey... the rewards from what I have done with Yahya has really encouraged me to help...there are lots out there who need our help."

To donate to Yahya's Appeal and support this brave little boy, use the button below.


Visit the Moroccan Children's Appeal website

Email: info@moroccanchildrensappeal.com.au

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