We previously carried the video story of Jennifer Hiles, a mum who had balloons inserted under her skin because of a condition that could prove fatal. Now we follow her latest surgery which could save her life.
Jennifer suffers from AVM – arterial venous malformation – a jumble of arteries and veins on her face and head which could haemmorhage and kill her at any time.
In order to give her a chance of a normal life, surgeons put tissue expanders under her skin to allow new skin to grow which could be used in grafts when she has the AVM removed.
‘I don’t want to look perfect; I just want to look normal,’ says Jennifer.
Now the time has come for surgeons to remove the AVM and use the expanded skin to rebuild Jennifer’s face.
As surgeons work on the mum’s face, you can see the AVM and tissue expanders being removed and the skin being reworked. Meanwhile, Jennifer’s worried family wait for news. And the news, when it comes, seems to be good.
Immediately post-op, surgeon Dr Milton Waner says, ‘The surgery went exceptionally well… When she’s healed up, she’s going to look very good. She faced a life of huge problems. She has a husband, she has two young children… and we’ve now been given a chance to give her a normal life.’
Three months on from the gruelling surgery, Jennifer says, ‘When I first woke up from surgery and I was in the recovery room, I actually felt so good that I didn’t feel like I had the surgery at all.’ Despite the heavy scarring, she was just relieved to see herself AVM-free.
After surgery, however, the skin on Jennifer’s right cheek started to die and the AVM began returning between her nostrils.
‘When your skin is literally dying on your face, it’s really scary,’ says Jennifer.
Now, although she still faces more surgery to thin her nose and repair the scarring, she is no longer in danger of dying from bleeding out.
Jennifer has been making YouTube videos of her incredible journey, and has received support from her online supporters.
And her hopes for the future? ‘I just hope that all my surgeries go as planned and the scars all fade, and one day I could just, you know, walk into a room and have people see me for me and not just my condition all the time.’