Guyana teen has part of leg removed to replace jawbone at Vanderbilt

Last Updated on Friday, 4 July 2014, 2:45 by GxMedia

Kessa Kendall (photo by WKRN-TV)

(WKRN-TV NASHVILLE).-A 15-year-old girl from Guyana traveled to Nashville for an uncommon surgery for someone her age.

Kessa Kendall had a part of her leg removed to replace her jawbone.

“Kessa had a growth that was not cancer,” explained Dr. Sarah Rohde, a surgeon at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. “It’s not a risk for spreading but it is difficult because it destroys the local tissue,” she said.

The tumor destroyed Kessa’s jawbone and her teeth. Doctors were able to find a replacement in her own leg.

“Luckily your body has extras,” said Rohde. “One of those extras is in your fibula, which is the bone on the lateral side of your leg, and we’re able to take out the middle portion of that and bend it, or cut it, into the shape of a jawbone,” she said.

Kessa and her parents were referred to Vanderbilt by a friend of a friend. They had to get a visa to make the trip and plan to be in Nashville for the next couple of weeks.

“I was really worried,” said mother Kathy. “Because, like removing all of this in this surgery, was like, pretend not to worry, and the doctors did reassure me.” 

Kessa is recovering and was seeing doctors at Vanderbilt for checkups on Thursday.

“I knew what was going to happen and the reason for coming, so all of this was expected. It was, I must say, it was simpler than I expected,” she said.

Doctors told News 2 that Kessa will receive dental implants in the near future and after some healing, most of the scars will disappear.

“We got all of the tumor out,” said Dr. Rohde. “So this should heal as expected. She’s healing wonderfully so she should not have a problem with this in the future,” she said.