News / Health

Liberian Refugee Gets New Face After Devastating Acid Burn

Liberian Refugee Gets New Face After Devastating Burni
X
February 04, 2013
The number of acid attacks against women is growing in many South Asian nations. But the crime that causes human skin to melt is not limited to Asia or to women. A Liberian man, who was the victim of a surprise attack almost two years ago, is recovering at a Baltimore, Maryland hospital. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.

Liberian Refugee Gets New Face After Devastating Burn

TEXT SIZE - +
— The number of acid attacks against women is growing in many South Asian nations. But the crime that causes human skin to melt is not limited to Asia or to women. A Liberian man, who was the victim of a surprise attack almost two years ago, is recovering at a Baltimore, Maryland hospital.

Henry Cole has lost count of how many times he’s been wheeled into surgery. In the last two years, Cole has had more than a dozen procedures. And there are more to come. But he has no complaints.

“The Lord has been paving my way… I always met the good doctors, the good nurses, the good friends," said Cole.

When VOA first met Cole in the spring of 2012, he wore a mask to help heal his facial wounds. But the emotional trauma that led him on this journey was still fresh.
 
"I tell you the truth when I saw myself back in Liberia, I didn’t want to continue living," said Cole, who was the police traffic commander in Monrovia, Liberia.

Surprising tragedy

In April of 2011, he was the victim of an attack that seemed to come out of nowhere, in the middle of the night.

"...only to come out of sleep in shock that some liquid was on my chest and it started to burn," said Cole.

The liquid was acid, poured on by an intruder who is yet to be found.

"The acid entered in my nose, in my mouth and in my ear and then I cried out for help," he remembers.

Cole was taken to a local hospital.
 
"For two weeks there, my condition was getting worse. I was in pain," he said.

Cole credits his faith with his will to live.

"After some time and counseling, I got to know there is a God who watched over us and preserves our lives. So I still have a second chance of living. So I must carry on," he said.

Requesting help

With the help of friends, Cole left Liberia for America, ending up at Johns Hopkins Burn Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

His doctors remember the first time they saw him.

"Literally just walked into the office and asked for help," said Dr. Stephen M. Milner at the Johns Hopkins Burn Center.

"His chest, abdomen, arms were all scarred," said Dr. Leigh Ann Price.

And that began the long process of creating Cole’s new face, a face transformed bit by bit.

"One of the first things we did, in the first operation, was to make him a nostril on the left side," said Milner.

"It's very similar to building a building. And for a burn patient, the canvas is their skin," said Price.

"We covered it with what we call aloe graft, which is cadaver skin. So we can leave this on for a week, and we take it off before it becomes rejected," said Milner. "And then what we used in this case was a material called Integra. It's a synthetic material that mimics the skin.

And then after three weeks we can peel off the top layer and we can take some skin from a different part of his body that isn’t burnt, and we use that to cover."

New face

Between surgeries, Cole recuperates at a friend’s home. He watches African movies and dreams of the day when his daughter will join him in America

Cole already feels blessed, thanks to the doctors who showed him his new face for the first time.

"He was in the tub, and I asked him if he wanted to see his face," said Price.

"As soon as they brought the mirror, and I look at it," said Cole.

"And then he reaches up, and he's got a tear coming out of his eye," said Price.

"I sprung on her and gave her a big hug," said Cole.

"He apparently liked it," said Cole with a smile.

And when he sees his former self, he is confident that he is well on his way.

"I’m not far from being like this [his image in a photo]. I’m very close," he said.
 
But in the meantime, Henry Cole is starting to enjoy his life again.

"Now I’m happy," he said.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
February 05, 2013 4:00 PM
This is outragious see.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid