Spanish doctor reconstructs face of man attacked by a hyena

Cavadas with Lonunuko at Tuesday's press conference.
Cavadas with Lonunuko at Tuesday's press conference. / EFE
  • Famed surgeon Pedro Cavadas carried out the operation at the Hospital de Manises in Valencia

"I heard a woman screaming, I got closer and saw that she was being devoured by a hyena. I tried to defend her but it attacked me too and tore off my face and my fingers. I survived because I fell into a spot where it couldn't reach me." This is the tragedy that Lonunuko suffered six years ago, but thanks to Dr Pedro Cavadas, he now has a second chance.

The renowned Valencia surgeon has reconstructed his face and one of his hands which means the Kenyan can now eat and help to look after his seven children.

The pair spoke on Tuesday at the conference hall of the Hospital de Manises in Valencia. Lonunuko couldn't find the words to thank the surgeon who has restored his basic functions.

Following the incident in 2012, Lonunuko was transferred to a hospital in Samburu in northern Kenya where they found that his palate, his upper jaw bone and a third of his face had been ripped off. He couldn't swallow nor speak and he had severe injuries to his hand. With limited resources "they did what they could", said Cavadas.

The surgeon said that while there were still "a few aesthetic touches" to be added, Lonunuko could return to Kenya in a week and will be able to live "a normal life" now that he "can eat whatever he wants and be understood when he speaks".

The recovery period, compared to being attacked by a hyena at least, "should be a walk in the park for him", joked the surgeon.