Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:30 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:30:05 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A woman who was disfigured because she was misdiagnosed as having terminal cancer will have her first reconstructive surgery performed on Thursday.
Back in 2001, a doctor in Kazakhstan told then 19-year-old Lessya Kotelevskaya she only had three days to three months to live. She was given 60 radiation treatments, along with chemotherapy. The treatment left her with a hole in her face. She is barely able to speak, and cannot chew or swallow well. Her husband left her, the boutique they owned closed, and she was left homeless.
It turns out Kotelevskaya really suffered a broken jaw, not terminal cancer, after someone fell on her at a basketball game.
Kotelevskaya's first reconstructive surgery will take place Thursday at University of Louisville Hospital. That surgery will install an implant to prepare her skin for her first major reconstructive surgery in January of next year.
The goal of the first surgery will be to install an implant to prepare the skin for her major reconstructive surgery on Jan. 30, 2014.
Kotelevskaya's cousin Oleg Sennick brought her to Kentucky after a search that took over 20 years. He'd lost contact with her after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last year, an Internet search led to renewed contact with her. Sennick brought her to Kentucky and Dr. Jerrod Little of U of L agreed to perform for free the procedures needed to restore her features.
Dr. Little says a bone from Kotelevskaya's leg will be made into a new jawbone, with skin from the leg covering her mouth both inside and outside.