Hunter mutilated in bear attack has face rebuilt in pioneering surgery
He turned to leave when the bear suddenly attacked, knocking him unconscious. When he woke he found the aggressive animal standing over him.
Mr Brooke recalled the shock of seeing his “nose and moustache laid out on the ground”, adding: “Now I knew what was wrong with my face.”
He explained: “I felt her sniffing my cheek. I felt her whiskers.
“I should’ve bled to death right there. I should’ve at least drowned on my blood.”
With blood in his eyes blurring his vision, he managed to reach for a steak knife in his pocket, later joking: “I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to stab her if I could see her.
“I had to lean in to stab her in the head. So I was [that] close to her nose.”
He spent around an hour alone in the woods before help arrived, recalling: “I said ‘Lord I could do with a little help about now!’”
His brother-in-law, George Neal, eventually found him and remembered seeing Lee’s torn-off nose and upper lip on the ground. He grabbed the body parts and stuffed them in Lee’s pocket before calling 911.
He said the bear “ripped his face right off”.
Mr Brooke underwent months of reconstructive surgery at the Swedish Medical Center’s Burn and Reconstructive Unit in Colorado.
Dr Benson Pulikkottil and Dr Lily Daniali removed a fibula and a flap of skin from his leg, then used the bone and skin to rebuild his face.
Doctors will eventually reconstruct his nose, possibly even using a part of his own nose they managed to preserve.
“They were so confident and compassionate and communicated really well back and forth,” said Mr Brooke.
“Everybody was phenomenal. They built me up and never let me down. They’re the best of the best.”
SOURCE: The Telegraph