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Bosnian Woman To Get Operated In S.Fla. By Doctor From Bosnia

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

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CBS4 Reporter Joan Murray Joan Murray is a general assignmen...
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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — A Bosnian woman whose face was disfigured in her country’s civil war is in South Florida for what she hopes will be life-altering surgery.

Vildana Briga was 11 years old when a bomb blast destroyed part of her face, back in 1992.
“I do remember seeing a black spot that became bigger and bigger,” remembers Briga.

She had gone out to her front yard to play when the bomb hit.  It killed her 17-month old brother and grandmother.

Briga says she lost consciousness and woke up in the hospital days later.

“I thought I was dreaming because it was very unreal.  I remember asking my mom in the hospital whether it was a dream.  And she said no, you were injured.  My face was full of bandages.  I had five fractured bones and lesions all over my body.  I was in a great deal of pain.”

After that began a lifetime of surgeries.  Although she has a prosthetic eye there is a large scar on her forehead and the eye socket did not heal properly.

Through a mutual family friend, she sought the help of Broward Health plastic surgeon, Dr. Zoran Potparic.
Potparic she learned was from her town, Sarajevo.  Dr. Potparic was in the United States when the war broke out and never returned to Bosnia.

Once he reviewed all of Briga’s medical history, Dr. Potparic gave her the news she was desperate to hear.  He thought he could reconstruct her face.

“Ironically I was doing this same type of surgery 25 years ago back in Sarajevo.  But that is what civil war does.  It drives out the best and brightest.”

Using a bone graft from Briga’s own skull, Dr. Potparic on Tuesday morning will reconstruct Briga’s eye socket and attempt to make her face more symmetrical.

He is confident she will see an improvement.

Still Briga doesn’t want to get her hopes up, because of past disappointments.

“I hope I will be surprised,” she says simply.

After a recovery period, Briga will return to Sarajevo on New Year’s Day for what she hopes will be a new beginning.  She will return next summer for additional surgeries.

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