Vildana Briga's Story
In August 1992, then 11-year-old Vildana Briga was playing in her front yard with her 17-month-old brother and grandmother when a bomb dropped. Just four months earlier, war had broken out in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, it was in Briga’s front yard.
Briga remembers the sound of the explosion and waking in a hospital two days later. It was then that she began to realize the extent of her injuries. Briga lost her right eye, and her brain was partially exposed. She was evacuated to France, where emergency surgery was performed.
The previous April, Dr. Zoran Potparic had left his and Briga’s hometown of Sarajevo for a medical conference in the United States. The war started that week, and he and his wife decided to temporarily stay in the United States until it ended. Little did Dr. Potparic know that while he was waiting in the States, Briga was battling life-threatening injuries.
As she continued her recovery, Briga learned that her brother and grandmother had not survived the explosion, but she was expected to recover. With a fighter’s spirit, Briga suffered through more than 20 surgeries, but doctors advised that her face would be permanently disfigured.
That is when a family friend advised Briga, now a 32-year-old attorney in Sarajevo, to reach out to Dr. Potparic. Though he had never returned to Bosnia, that didn’t mean that Dr. Z, as he is affectionately called by patients, had forgotten where he came from. In fact, he had a reputation for taking on cases just like Briga’s.
After a chain of emails, the two decided that Briga should fly to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to have her orbit and forehead rebuilt. On Dec. 17, the surgery will be complete. On Jan. 1, 2014, Briga will return home with a new face for a new year.
Images and B-Roll
Briga prior to surgery
Briga as a child in Sarajevo
Briga in the hospital after the explosion
Surgery photos and B-roll [WARNING: GRAPHIC]
Click here for surgery photos
There are four :30 B-roll spots available for download:
click to enlarge image
Post-operative pictures will be available after Christmas.