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FROM BEAUMONT: Charlotte Ponce is a Sleeping Beauty

Patch followed 10-year-od Charlotte Ponce's nasal reconstruction surgery live this morning with frequent posts and photos..

Update, 2:10 p.m.: Tim and Sharon Ponce are brought back to see Charlotte for the first time and the media follow after a few minutes.

"It looks good," Sharon said, with a sigh of relief, as her daughter slept. "You guys (the media) have waited to see this face for a few months, we have waited 10 years."

Sharon points out how well Charlotte's forehead looks. Skin from the girl's forehead was pulled down to cover her new nose.

"It's healing nicely," Sharon said. "Her face looks a little rough because she just got out of surgery, but we can finally see her nose."

Today's surgery took about three hours to complete. If all goes well, Charlotte will go home tomorrow and Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate says, if she wants, she can go back to public school in January. The only restriction will be no gym classes.

In addition, the family must decide whether Charlotte will come back and have her ear reconstructed in six months or so.

"Missing her ear has never bothered her," Sharon said. "We will leave it up to her if she wants to go through this all again or wants to wait."

Charlotte's appearance has never been an issue, Sharon said. Before her nose construction surgery, Sharon said she would look for her daughter's reaction whenever the girl saw her reflection.

"She would get a new dress or something and look in the mirror and I would watch her face," Sharon said. "She would always be unfazed and say something like 'Oh, mom! Don't I look pretty?'"

The Ponces express how happy they are. They joke that Chaiyasate said Charlotte has a nose like her father now.

"He said it's round like Tim's, not nice like mine," Sharon joked.

Once healed, Charlotte's new nose will be a little large for a 10-year-old but hopefully it will be the perfect size for her when she's an adult. Chaiyasate said she will grow into her new nose.

"If anything, I made it a little bigger. It's hard to predict the size it needs to be when she is an adult. But it is easier to make her nose smaller, if necessary, than to add," he said.

12:28 p.m.: Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate says, "The surgery went very well."#HealingCharlotte

12:27 p.m.: Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate has completed the surgery. Anesthesia team now in to safely transfer her to PACU. #HealingCharlotte

12:21 p.m.: Right after surgery, Charlotte will move to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) before moving up to the peds floor. #HealingCharlotte

12:05 p.m: Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate is suturing up the incisions and getting close to finishing the surgery. #HealingCharlotte

11:45 a.m.: The forehead flap, which Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate has done for Charlotte, is commonly used for adults w/ basal cell carcinoma or other nasal defects. #HealingCharlotte

11:05 a.m.: Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate is about half-way done with the work on the nose.#HealingCharlotte

10:39 a.m.: Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate is suturing the eyebrow and will soon be moving on to next phase of the surgery. #HealingCharlotte

First visit with Santa

10:35 a.m.: Last night Charlotte Ponce sat on Santa's lap at the Royal Oak Farmers Market and the pair discussed Charlotte's Christmas wish-list. (I tried not to listen, but I do think I heard the word "Barbie.")

"She has never had her picture taken with Santa before," said Charlotte's father Tim Ponce. 

You can see Charlotte and Santa's first picture together in the photo gallery.

Happy Adoption Day!

10:15 a.m.: Did you know on this day (Nov. 30) in 2005, Marshall and Charlotte were adopted by Sharon and Tim Ponce of Spring Lake, MI? Happy Adoption Day!

10:03 a.m.: The sterile drapes are now being placed over Charlotte and Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate is removing sutures from the previous surgery.#HealingCharlotte

9:48 a.m.: Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate is now scrubbing in. He has his headlight on to improve his visualization. #HealingCharlotte

Visit to Upton

9:40 a.m.: Here's a shout-out to Andrea Kirkwood's fifth-grade class at Upton Elementary. When the Ponce family asked if there was a way for Charlotte to spend some time with school children in Royal Oak, Ms. Kirkwood's class replied with a big, "Come on over!"

The students researched Charlotte's story so by the time the 10-year-old arrived it was like meeting an old friend. 

Charlotte talked about the adventure's of being a patient at Beaumont Children's Hospital - lots of toys there - and about the number of letters she's received from well-wishers across the globe.

When the dismissal bell rang, several children stayed late to spend more time with Charlotte, posing for photos and offering lots of hugs.

"I have waited all day to meet her," said Upton student McKenna as she wrapped her arms around Charlotte and gently patted her back. 

See photos of Charlotte's visit in the photo gallery.

Thankful to be alive 

9 a.m: "What are you thankful for?" Sharon Ponce asked her daughter Charlotte on Thanksgiving.

"I am thankful the raccoon didn't kill me and I am alive," Charlotte said.

At 10-years-old, Sharon said she thinks her daughter, who survived a raccoon attack as an infant, is just beginning to understand the seriousness of the injuries she endured.

"She said she is happy to be alive so matter-of-factly," Sharon said. "I think everything that has happened to her is finally beginning to sink in."

8:30 a.m.: If you have questions about the procedure or well wishes to send to Charlotte, use the #HealingCharlotte Twitter hashtag.

8 a.m.: Marshall Ponce, 11, climbs into his sister Charlotte's hospital bed, as the 11-year-old takes questions from the media. The pair giggle with reporters.

The reality that today's surgery, Charlotte's fifth since August, may be the last one for six months or so is finally sinking in with the family, according to the girl's mother Sharon Ponce.

Everyone is excited and upbeat about today's procedure, which will reveal a new nose in time for Christmas.

"This is the best Christmas present ever," Sharon said.

+++

Charlotte Ponce, a 10-year-old western Michigan girl, has traveled across the state to Royal Oak multiple times since Patch first met her in August—but she never really saw much of the city or the people who live here. On Thursday that changed.

Attacked by a raccoon as an infant, Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate, of Beaumont's Craniofacial Clinic, has spent the past five months reconstructing Charlotte's nose, lip and ear. She will undergo another surgery today at Beaumont Hospital, her fifth since August. It will be her last surgery for the next six months (when doctors will then begin work on reconstructing Charlotte's ear).

[Patch will be following today's surgery live with frequent posts and photos, so check back often for updates.]

Royal Oak welcome

On Thursday, Charlotte and her family—parents Sharon and Tim and brother Marshall—toured the City of Royal Oak for the first time, beginning with a trip to Upton Elementary. With her favorite Furby toy in hand, Charlotte met the fifth-grade class of Andrea Kirkwood, where students asked questions, offered hugs and stayed after school to take photos. Principal John Grzywack gave the family a tour of the building.

"She misses being around other children," said Sharon. Charlotte is currently homeschooled, but plans to go back to public school in January. 

After Upton, the family enjoyed dinner and bowling at Star Lanes before heading to the Royal Oak Farmers Market for the tree lighting event and a visit with Santa Claus. Last stops were Sweet Earth and the Sally's On Fourth.

About today's surgery

Scheduled for 8:30 a.m., this surgery will complete Charlotte's nasal reconstruction with division and inset of forehead flap, reports Beaumont Health System's website. This will give her full breathing abilities through her nose again. Her lip reconstruction was completed with the last surgery and the next procedure will be her ear reconstruction.

Timeline of previous surgeries

  • Aug. 15 - First-stage nasal reconstruction with release of star contracture bilateral nose
  • Sept. 4 - Re-inset of the columella radial forearm skin flap
  • Oct. 4 - Second stage of nasal reconstruction with a forehead flap; nasal structure support with costal cartilage graft to create the nasal columella, bilateral nasal ala and nasal dorsum
  • Nov. 2 - Third stage nasal reconstruction with thinning of the forehead flap; first stage upper lip reconstruction with Abbe flap
  • Nov. 16 - Fourth stage nasal reconstruction with flap defatting and readjustment of the columellar structure with complex closure of the nose and local tissue rearrangement; second stage lip reconstruction with division and inset of the Abbe flap

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