Hospital Escuela, Tegucigalpa Honduras,
May 30th, 2002
by Karl Grobl

Eight year old, Maria lives in a poor, crime ridden section of Tegucigalpa, but in one respect, she is a very lucky little girl. Late one afternoon while playing with friends in the street a shot rang out. Maria didn't know what hit her, but the impact threw her to the ground and blood began to flow from the right side of her face.

The stray bullet, likely meant for a drug dealer, gang-banger or convicted criminal, entered Maria's face just below her nose and excited near her right ear. An inch of difference and she would have been lost. Maria had became yet another innocent victim of the "maras" or street gangs that roam the dangerous streets of Tegucigalpa.

It has been several months since the incident and Maria does not remember much about that fateful day. But, when she looks in the mirror she sees a five inch long keloid scar. A scar that wouldn't be there if her wound would have been treated promptly and properly.

Now, the job of restoring Maria's cheek was up to Dr. Juan Carlos Funes Aleman, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Dr. Funes carefully removed the scar in a delicate two hour operation. Although Maria's face will never be perfect, the result will be a vast improvement.

Maria has lots of spunk and prior to being sedated, was not the most cooperative patient. Maybe that's a good thing, with her stubborn determination Maria might have a better chance of holding her own in the difficult years ahead.