A woman who was badly beaten by her ex-boyfriend, to the point where she was nearly decapitated, was given a new face thanks to doctors who donated their time and skills.
Ilianexy Morales, of New York, had to have 17 surgeries, including one that reattached her partially-severed arms after the attack in 2005. But even after the surgery she was reminded of the horrific incident, as she was left with deep scars across her face.
Face to Face, part of the American Academy of Facial, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, said they would donate their skills to help recover Morales’ appearance.
“It has really, really changed my life,” Morales said of her surgeries. “Before I was extremely shameful to be around people. [The surgery] seemed like a dream but it was real.”
She was only in her 20s when she met her attacker. He was significantly older than her, at 38 years old, but said he would help support her family so she could raise her four-year-old daughter and help her bedridden mother.
He told her to stop working as a medical assistant and said she would not have to worry about money.
But he soon became extremely obsessed and jealous, and stopped letting her leave the house. He also threatened to kill her if she tried to leave him.
She gained the courage to leave him in 2005 after she endured three years of emotional abuse.
In July of that year, he tricked her into seeing him by saying he wanted to give her one final check and talk. In her room, he took a knife out of his sock and started stabbing her dozens of times.
“He started attacking me immediately and didn’t even give me time to react,” she said. “I was in complete shock. I couldn’t get out and couldn’t do anything. He was so fast.”
As she screamed and slipped in and out of consciousness, he managed to stab her shoulder, face, neck, stomach, vaginal area, and arms. Fortunately, a neighbor heard her screams and called authorities.
When police arrived, they arrested the man. He is now serving 15 years in jail.
During the incident, she suffered from cardiac arrest. Doctors were not sure she would survive. She spent a month in a coma and have seven surgeries and miraculously pulled through.
Though she was thankful to survive, she couldn’t put the incident completely behind her as she was left with scars covering her face.
“I didn’t look like me,” she said. “I would hide a lot. I felt really ashamed of myself even though it was not my fault. I accepted what had happened. My main problem was seeing myself in the mirror,” she said.
Face to Face donates 1,500 surgeries every year to women who have been victims of domestic abuse. They have helped those who suffered from acid attacks, gun shot wounds, broken jaws and noses.