Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - Bosnian War Victim Recovering From Facial Reconstruction by Bosnian War Refugee and Surgeon Zoran Potparic

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Jennifer Smith
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Cathy Schwartz
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Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – Broward Health plastic surgeon Dr. Zoran Potparic, a Bosnian War refugee, performed a more than five-hour partial facial reconstruction on Vildana Briga, 32, of Sarajevo, on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at Broward Health Medical Center.

Vildana came out of surgery last evening, at which time Dr. Potparic listed her condition as good. This morning, though tired and swollen, her condition remains good, as she rests comfortably with her sister, Amila Briga, by her side.

“Vildana’s surgery went very well,” Dr. Potparic said. “We were able to shave off a small section of her skull and mold it into a new orbit and forehead. While Vildana is swollen and tired, she is recovering nicely and should be able to leave Broward Health Medical Center tomorrow.”

Briga, of Sarajevo, suffered life threatening injuries at the age of 11 in August 1992 when a bomb exploded in her front yard, killing her 17-month-old brother and grandmother. In the past 20 years, Briga has had more than 20 surgeries, many to her extremities and face.

When the bomb exploded, Briga suffered a head injury. Part of her skull was blown away, exposing her brain and causing forehead and orbital damage. A few days later she lost her right eye. She was evacuated to France where additional surgeries covered the wound, but left deformities.

In this latest surgery, Dr. Potparic—who was in the United States for a medical conference when war broke out in Sarajevo and has never returned—reconstructed the orbital bone structure of the right eye, as well as part of her forehead. He used bone harvested from the skull. Dr. Potparic and Briga are hopeful yesterday’s surgery will provide better symmetry between the right and left sides of Briga’s face.

“I am aware I will always be scarred,” Briga says, “But I’m confident Dr. Potparic will do his best and the result will be as symmetrical as possible.”

Briga learned of Dr. Potparic through a family friend, who was familiar with his work with other patients like Briga. She emailed him asking for advice, and he responded that he thought he could be of assistance.

This was wonderful news for Briga, who just a few years before had been told by other surgeons that nothing could be done for her face. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. After these two surgeries [Briga will have a follow-up soft tissue surgery at Broward Health Medical Center in June], I hope to be done,” she says.

Additional information, including images, b-roll and medical scans, is available at

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