ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Doctors at Swedish Medical Center are rebuilding a man’s face as he rebuilds his life. The hunter from Pennsylvania had his nose and upper lip torn off by a grizzly bear in 2016.
“I’m quite excited about the results,” Lee Brooke told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
When strangers gape at Brooke’s face, they see a man without a nose. Brooke and his wife, Martha, see a miracle.
“I can’t express how amazing it is,” he said.
Since early October 2016, doctors at Swedish have been reconstructing Brooke’s face mauled during a Wyoming hunting trip.
“I wasn’t thinking about a bear,” Brooke said.
The Maytag repairman was set on retrieving the elk he’d killed the day before, but so was a mama grizzly bear. The animal attacked and knocked Brooke out. When he came to …
“A voice was telling me to fight back,” he said.
He stabbed the bear in the head several times and she took off. Brooke was unaware that he’d been bitten.
“Well, I looked over on the right side of me and there on the ground was my nose and my mustache,” he explained.
For the next hour, he screamed for help.
“That day the Lord was with me,” said Brooke.
His hunting buddies found him and his face.
“I took my nose in my hand and put it in my pocket,” he said matter-of-factly.
The first month at Swedish, Brooke was in a medically-induced coma while doctors saved his life. They treated bites and broken bones and patched his face with skin from his leg.
He’s had more than 20 surgeries. A lip and mustache were made from his scalp. His nose has been kept alive attached to an artery on his arm.
“They used leeches, surgical leeches to infuse the blood supply,” said Brooke. “It still makes mucous. It still grows hair.”
“We felt it was worthwhile to save,” said Dr. Lily Daniali.
Daniali and Dr. Benson Pulikkottil are Brooke’s plastic surgeons at the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of Colorado at Swedish. This month, they’ll put his nose back on his face.
“It’s not one surgery, it’s refinement of multiple surgeries,” explained Pulikkottil.
“Eventually, it’s going to look pretty good,” said Daniali.
Brooke considers his Swedish medical team exceptional.
“They took care of us, they brought us in, they made us family,” he said.
Brooke’s face of 59 years is gone.
“But he’s still the Lee I married,” said Martha.
This new face comes with the grateful smile of a survivor. Brooke and Martha have a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses.
LINK: Lee Brooke’s GoFundMe