Specialist surgeons have reconstructed a junior doctor’s face like a jigsaw after her horse trampled on her – using old photos from Facebook.
Dr Elizabeth Calton, 38, had her face ‘crushed backwards’ after jumping off her horse, Barney, and getting kicked in the head.
It took nine surgeons ten hours, 41 screws and 11 plates to reconstruct her face after the accident last October, and pictures of Elizabeth helped painstakingly recapture her original bone structure.
She suffered multiple facial fractures, including both cheek bones, her eye sockets, nose and upper jaw, which had fractured in two under the weight of the horse’s hoof.
She said: “The impact basically crushed the middle of my face backwards.
“I was incredibly lucky, both to have been discovered by passers-by, but also to be brought to St George’s, which has so many specialists in one place.
“I had panda eye bruising and my face was so swollen I was hardly recognisable, so to be back on my feet now, looking back to how I was, is amazing.
“I am grateful to everyone who looked after me – so many people were involved in my care.”
The trained paediatric registrar had to quickly dismount from her horse after he was spooked by a noise in the woods.
But he trampled across her chest, breaking nine of her ribs and crushing her face.
Horrified passers-by called an ambulance, and rushed to the major trauma centre at St George’s before undergoing surgery eight days later.
Consultant maxillofacial surgeon Dr Nick Hyde, who led the operation, said: “Multiple injuries to the face such as this are rare, and the surgery Elizabeth required was complex and labour-intensive.
“However, the end result is very pleasing, and a credit to the many different people involved in her care.
“The maxillofacial surgery we carried out was only possible thanks to the work of the ambulance team who transferred her, as well as our emergency department, cardiothoracic surgical colleagues, anaesthetists and nursing and allied healthcare clinicians who were critical to her recovery at St George’s.
“It was a real team effort.”
Now the PhD student has recovered, she plans to continue her studies in becoming a paediatric oncologist.