A hunter who had his face literally ripped off by a bear has had it rebuilt by surgeons, in a period spanning the last 12 months.
60-year-old hunter, Lee Brooke, was approaching an elk he’d just shot, when a 30-stone female bear attacked him from behind.
The bear knocked him unconscious and ravaged his face, tearing off his nose and lip.
Despite being blinded by blood, Brooke managed to reach for a knife and stabbed the bear in the head, several times.
Brooke told Fox31 news:
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 this close to her nose.
Shocked by his attack the bear retreated leaving Brooke badly hurt and bleeding, but still alive.
Not knowing whether he’d live or die, Brooke desperately screamed for help and his cries were eventually answered by his brother-in-law, George Neal.
They retrieved Brooke’s severed nose and lip before heading down the mountain to call for help.
Brooke was rushed to hospital where doctors placed him in a month-long, medically induced coma, at the Swedish Burn and Reconstructive Unit, in Colorado.
Thankfully, after hours of surgery, doctors managed to save Brooke and preserved part of his nose by using blood from his arm to feed the facial feature.
Doctors hope to use what was left after the bear’s attack, to rebuild Brooke’s face.
Following the attack, Brooke spent three months undergoing skin grafts and complicated surgeries, to reconstruct his face.
The skin and bone used to rebuild his face mostly came from his right leg and many metal plates were embedded into his head.
After his surgeries Brooke spent two months in rehab, exercising, learning how to eat again and overcoming the physiological trauma of the attack.
His surgeon Lily Daniali told Fox News:
We didn’t just fix his body, we really wanted to make sure that he recovered mentally.
Brooke can no longer control tears. A good portion of his face is gone. He depends on a tracheal tube to tell his story.
Doctors claim Brooke will be back in Colorado after Christmas to start a series of reconstructive surgeries, which again, could take another year to complete.
Neighbours have been helping Brooke and his wife pay their medical bills.