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Hunter’s Face Ripped Off In Bear Attack Reconstructed

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A hunter who had his face severely disfigured in a near-fatal bear attack has had his features reconstructed after months of surgeries.

Lee Brooke was on a hunting trip in Wyoming in October last year when a grizzly bear pounced on him, ripping off his nose and mustache. According to the 60-year-old, he had come across an elk the day before his foray, but realized quickly that a bear had already staked a claim on it, The Telegraph reports.

He turned to leave but the bear knocked him unconscious. When he awoke, he found the animal standing over him. He was shocked to see his “nose and mustache laid out on the ground,” he related.

Now I knew what was wrong with my face.

He added, “I felt her sniffing my cheek. I felt her whiskers. I should’ve bled to death right there. I should’ve at least drowned on my blood.” His eyes were bloody and blurry, but Brooke managed to draw a steak knife from his pocket. He later joked, “I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to stab her if I could see her. I had to lean in to stab her in the head. So I was [that] close to her nose.”

Brooke spent an hour alone in the woods before someone arrived to help. He recalled, “I said ‘Lord I could do with a little help about now!” George Neal, his brother-in-law, found him and described how he saw Brooke’s torn-off nose and upper lip lying on the ground. He grabbed them, stuffed them in Brooke’s pocket and called 911.

It took months of reconstructive surgery at the Swedish Medical Center’s Burn and Reconstructive Unit in Colorado for Brooke to regain his face. Dr. Benson Pulikkottil and Dr. Lily Daniali used a fibula and a piece of skin from his leg to rebuild Brooke’s face. Doctors will eventually reconstruct his nose, as well.

Brooke said, “They were so confident and compassionate and communicated really well back and forth. Everybody was phenomenal. They built me up and never let me down. They’re the best of the best.”

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