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Egyptian Baby with Two Mouths Receives Lifesaving Surgery in US

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Fifteen-month-old Rokaya Mohamed traveled from her home in Egypt to Los Angeles to receive a surgery that doctors had never performed until last Wednesday.

Rokaya was born with two full mouths -- both included an upper and lower jaw.  At birth, doctors told Rokaya's parents that their baby wouldn't survive.  But she proved them wrong when she continued to grow and get healthier on the liquid diet her parents fed her.

"The X-rays, the ultrasound didn't show us how her face is going to be," Rokaya's father, Tamer Mohamed, told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV through an interpreter.  "We are going to fight to change her life."

Dr. William Magee III, medical director of international programs in the department of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, heard of Rokaya's condition.  While he and his team have performed facial cleft surgeries on more than 100 children from more than 50 countries, he had never seen a child born with two full formed mouths.  It is perhaps the only known case of its kind.  Nevertheless, Magee III believed he could transform Rokaya's face and, in turn, save her life.

"We spent a lot of time planning the surgery, but we made some final decisions on how to go about it while in the operating room," said Magee III.  "The face is made of multiple pieces, so it's like pieces of a puzzle.  The cool thing is that we were able to use all those extra pieces in Rokaya's face."

While Rokaya will have to undergo many more surgeries in her life, Magee III said he is confident that the Egyptian team of doctors will be able to successfully take over Rokaya's medical needs.

"We're very well-experienced in terms of bringing in children around the world for these surgeries," said Magee III.  "We thought we could do an excellent job and get her home safely.  She's done quite well, better than we anticipated."

Rokaya was released from the intensive care unit (ICU) Monday.  She will likely be in the U.S. for another few weeks as she recovers from the surgery.

Nonprofits, including Mending Kids International, the Children of War, and Operation Smile -- an international medical charity committed to healing children's smiles -- helped Rokaya's family pay to travel to the U.S. and receive the surgery.  Operation Smile was founded by Magee's father, Dr. William Magee Jr. in 1982.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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