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Woman injured during Manila hostage drama receives facial surgery

TAIPEI -- A Taiwanese medical team has successfully performed reconstructive surgery on a Hong Kong woman whose face was damaged by a bullet during a high-profile hostage situation in the Philippines three years ago, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital said yesterday.

“On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the toughest, this operation was a 10,” said the team's head doctor Wei Fu-chan during a news conference at the hospital's Taipei branch Thursday.

Yik Siu Ling, 37, was one of nine injured in Manila in August 2010 when former Philippine police officer Rolando del Rosario Mendoza hijacked a bus full of Hong Kong tourists.

The stand-off ended with a shootout between Mendoza and the police, claiming nine lives — including that of Mendoza — and leaving Yik with a fractured lower jaw bone.

She underwent 32 unsuccessful surgery attempts that left massive scarring before receiving compensation from the Philippine government last month and deciding to come to Taiwan.

On Dec. 18, Yik went under the knife at Chang Gung's Linkou branch on what would end up being her first successful surgery.

It took Wei, a leading expert in reconstructive microsurgery, and his team of 14 other medical professionals 10 hours to rebuild her lower jaw bone and skin tissue on her jaw and neck.

It was difficult for doctors to find blood vessels for transplanted tissues, the doctor said, since many were used in previous operations and had become too fragile.

The task was made even more challenging as doctors had to work without having access to Yik's full medical history, dental records and the results of examinations made to her wounds three years ago, said Tsai Chi-ying, a surgeon on the team.

As of Tuesday, Yik is off a feeding tube and can eat food on her own, but she will be in the hospital for another week, Wei said.

She is expected to return home before the Lunar New Year at the end of January, but her doctors will continue following the progress of bone recovery for another 4-6 months before conducting dental surgery that will allow her to finally be able to chew foods as before the shooting, he added.

Yik was not present at the Thursday press event, but her story was widely reported in Hong Kong newspapers that day following a meeting with reporters on Wednesday.

Hong Kong's Chinese language Sing Tao Daily quoted Yik as saying the successful surgery is the best Christmas gift for her and her 5-year-old son.

“This doctor (Wei) is really good, and I'm very grateful to him,” she was reported as saying.

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