Charlotte Rose Ponce is a ten year old girl from West Michigan. Like most girls her age, she enjoys having tea parties, playing dress up and with dolls. And, like most girls her age, she’s becoming self-conscious about her appearance. Charlotte doesn’t have typical concerns about her appearance.
As an infant, Charlotte was attacked by a pet raccoon in her crib. She barely survived the attack, and spent months in the hospital before release. The animal had eaten away her nose, right ear, part of her lips and cheekbones. Fortunately, her bright blue eyes remained untouched. She and her brother, Marshall, were removed from the home and put into foster care with her great aunt and uncle while the parents were investigated. Nearly three years later, the state formally removed parental rights and Tim and Sharon Ponce, the children’s great aunt and uncle, adopted the children.
Charlotte has already gone through half a dozen painful reconstructive surgeries. Skin grafts from her forehead helped to replace some of the scar tissue between her eye and nose. A very painful surgery in which posts were drilled into her skull to mount prosthetic ear and nose pieces was unsuccessful. Her facial tissue became inflamed and would try to heal over them. Eventually, one of the posts intended to hold the prosthetic nose in place was dislodged and pushed out by tissues trying to heal themselves. Her prosthetic ear posts are perpetually infected. Earlier this year, they were capped in hopes that this would help them heal. One of the post continues to be an irritant.
A couple of months ago, Sharon Ponce learned of a surgeon in Eastern Michigan who specialized in reconstructive surgeries. When she contacted him, she found he had recently performed a successful nose reconstruction for a Honduran boy. Charlotte has been there for consultation twice and her first surgery is scheduled in August 2012. The surgeon will complete the first phase of her nose reconstruction and will restore her upper lip. The surgery will be her longest ever, lasting 6-8 hours, and will require a week stay in the local hospital.