Surgeons perform 'miracle' on hyena victim’s face

2016-06-27 19:21
Hyena (File, iStock)

Hyena (File, iStock)

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Johannesburg - It took doctors eight hours to reconstruct a 15-year-old boy’s face after a hyena attacked him in the Kruger National Park, Netwerk24 reported on Monday. 

Erco Janse van Rensburg’s grandfather, Basie Smalberger, said the surgeons at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg performed a miracle.

Smalberger said five surgeons were already scrubbed in when the helicopter carrying Erco arrived from Mediclinic Nelspruit on Sunday morning.   

He had a lot done to his face during the operation. The hyena bit and dragged him by his face, Smalberger said.

Smalberger said surgeons built up bones in his face, inserted plates, and reconstructed soft tissue.

He said the plastic surgeon's stitches were barely visible and quipped that the surgeon should have become a tailor.

Erco could not be too heavily sedated because his blood pressure could not drop too much. They had placed a tube in his airway to help him breathe. He could not speak, but reacted to questions, said Smalberger.

"There is a big improvement in his condition. First we took it minute by minute. Now we take it hour by hour."

Smalberger said he was happy to have been able to recognise his grandson's face when they wheeled him out of the theatre.

Like 'chips breaking in a packet'

He said the operation went well and the surgeons must have been among the best in the world.

Erco, his parents and two sisters, from Centurion, had been camping at the Crocodile Bridge Camp in the Kruger National Park since Friday.

The 15-year-old woke up in his tent at 04:30 on Sunday to find a hyena’s jaws clamped around his head.

His parents and sisters were sleeping in a camper van next to his tent. His uncle, Johan Janse van Rensburg was camping next to them.

The hyena dragged the teenager out of the tent by his face, for a distance of about 30m, and sat on him. Smalberger told Netwerk24 that Erco described the sound like "chips breaking in a packet".

When he was found, a nurse applied first aid at the camp, before his parents rushed him to the Mediclinic in Nelspruit.

The boy’s father said he believed the hyena ran away.

Everything happened so quickly

According to SANParks, camp rangers could not find the animal, but did find a hole in the perimeter fence where they believed the hyena crawled through.

Janse van Rensburg said it looked like the hyena was dragging a blanket. Smalberger said everything happened so quickly. The boy's parents were traumatised and Erco was unsure about what had happened, he said.

Read more on:    sanparks  |  johannesburg  |  animals

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