Girl attacked by raccoon as baby has reconstructive surgery - Fox 2 News Headlines

Girl attacked by raccoon as baby has reconstructive surgery

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ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WJBK) -

A little girl from West Michigan underwent extensive surgery Wednesday at Beaumont Hospital that she has waited a lifetime for.

This surgery began a painstaking process. One of several procedures, it will take a couple years before the healing is complete, but in the end a little girl will have her face back.

Outwardly her scars tell a painful story of a near deadly attack, but on the inside ten-year-old Charlotte Ponce is full of laughter and life.

At three months old, she was attacked by a pet raccoon inside her West Michigan home leaving her right ear, nose and mouth horribly disfigured. Her parents lost custody, and as Charlotte fought for her life, her great aunt and uncle, who would later adopt Charlotte and her brother, reached out to help the tiny baby covered in bandages.

"I said, I wish she would open her eyes,' and all of a sudden she opened her eyes," said Tim Ponce. "That gave me a feeling that I wanted to take her in."

"I said, 'How do I take care of a child that needs so much special attention,' and she said, 'Treat her like a normal child,'" said Sharon Ponce. "So that's what we've always done."

But being so-called "normal" has gotten more and more difficult for Charlotte. As any psychologist will tell you, around the age of ten kids start to notice their peers and how well they do or don't fit in.

"This last year of school has been harder for her. I think she's noticing more that she's different," Sharon Ponce explained.

So that has brought the Ponces to metro Detroit. On surgery day Charlotte was happy. Mom and dad tried to control their tears. They're also happy this day has arrived, but "also nervous because we know that this is like the biggest one she's ever had," Sharon Ponce said.

Phase one involved rebuilding her nose, which is complicated. Doctors used skin and blood vessels from her forearm.

"The nose being a three-dimensional structure with not just skin on the outside, but bony tissue, cartilage and also a fairly complex nasal lining, each of those has to be reconstructed," said Dr. Jefrey Fishman.

However, doctors were optimistic before the surgery. We were later told this first step went well.

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You can send well wishes to Charlotte at the following address:

Charlotte Ponce
PO Box 397
Fruitport, MI 49415

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