A Congolese boy who was severely disfigured in a chimpanzee attack is marveling doctors with his resiliency a year after he was brought to New York to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Nine-year-old Dunia Sibomana was the lone survivor three years ago when chimpanzees attacked him and two playmates near a preserve in Congo. His 4-year-old brother and a young cousin died. Dunia's face was left a frightening mask. His lips were ripped off, his cheek was torn apart and he was left with muscle damage that made it hard to swallow or communicate.
In January, Dunia underwent a rare surgery at a Long Island hospital that involved grafting tissue and muscle from his forearm to recreate his lips.
He still has a lot of healing ahead of him, but nearly a year later, Dunia is thriving with a host family in Brooklyn. He can once again open and close his mouth, eat and talk normally.
And doctors and his host family say the boy, who was once self-conscious, shy and withdrawn, has blossomed. He has become fluent in English, learned taekwondo, soccer and surfing, and made friends in his new neighborhood.
"He has a ton of friends. He can't walk down the street without people stopping to give him a high-five," said his host father, Kim Chaix. "It's New York City that's really raising this child.
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