Teenager given free surgery through program at Vanderbilt - WSMV News 4

Teenager given free surgery through program at Vanderbilt

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Fifteen-year-old Kessa Kendall had a tumor that slowly started destroying her jaw and teeth last year.

"I was really, really worried," said her mother, Kathy Kendall.

Kessa is her only child. They live in Guyana, which borders Venezuela, and were having a difficult time getting the treatment she needed.

Luckily, Kathy has a niece in Washington, D.C., with some medical connections that led to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, where Kessa underwent an 11-hour surgery.

The surgery was free through a charitable program at the hospital. So after several biopsies, Skype meetings with doctors and getting her visa, Kessa went in on June 19.

Dr. Sarah Rohde is an ear, nose and throat doctor at Vanderbilt and was one half of the operating team.

"In order to remove the tumor, we have to remove a portion of her jaw as well as her teeth. And then we want to rebuild that," Rohde said.

Doctors went to the leg for the bone they needed, taking part of her fibula and then used it to recreate the shape of a jawbone.

"I am quite confident that the doctor did a good job. And just thanking God the surgery was successful. And just hoping that nothing, no regrowth or anything of the tumor," Kathy said.

Kessa is using a walker for now. It will still be another eight weeks before she is able to chew food, and she will have to wait six months to get teeth implants.

She is now inspired to become a doctor herself.

"After this experience, yes, because I'll be able to help someone save a life or something," Kessa said.

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