31 January 2007

Marlie Casseus

Truly a remarkable story, and a remarkable girl. The program "A New Face for Marlie" aired over the weekend, and moved me profoundly. Suffice it to say, all my grumblings seemed petty in comparison to her quiet, years-long suffering. Marlie Casseus, a Haitian adolescent, is afflicted with Polyostotic Fibrous Dysplasia, a disease that affects the bones and causes irregular growth. Hers is the most severe case yet documented, causing her face to balloon to monstrous proportions.

When she was found, she could hardly eat or breathe, and could not speak. Though loved by her family, she was shunned by society as a monster and left to die. She had to hold her head in her hands because it weighed 16 pounds, and constantly ached. Since her discovery last year, she has undergone four surgeries at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, through the donations of kind strangers. Each surgery is a major ordeal, because it involves cutting off large portions of her face and bone, and realigning the tissue. Her last surgery took place on October 6, 2006, and she was able to go home to Haiti for Christmas. Although the surgeries have been considered successful, Marlie has a long way to go before looking and feeling human again.

She spoke her first words in many years in December: Thank you.

To learn about her progress, click here.