The tenacity of a mother in India to give her son a chance at normal life led to a life-changing six-hour surgery in New York in June. Three-year-old Maan Singh will no longer be plagued by pain and humiliation with the rare genetic disorder crouzon syndrome after Dr. David Staffenberg, a New York University (NYU) pediatric plastic surgeon, performed successful facial reconstruction surgery to save the boy’s face. The treatment, sponsored by myFace, an organization which provides free facial reconstructive surgeries to underprivileged children and adults, moved the bones in Maan’s forehead, eye sockets, nose, and upper jaw all together as one unit to help him sleep and eat well.

Previous unsuccessful surgery, exhausting every avenue of hope and a lack of monetary funds in India, drove the mother, Priya, to find myFace via Facebook, and contact them via email last September. It was through myFace that Priya and her family received help with everything from airfare to visas, and even living arrangements. “It's all thanks to myFace and Staffenberg,” Priya told the NY Daily News about her son’s successful facial reconstruction.

Maan before surgery in June
Photo courtesy of myFace/Facebook. myFace/Facebook

Staffenberg says he is impressed by Priya’s determination to help her son at all costs. "I think one of the most amazing things about this case — and this is something I've seen over and over in my 20 years doing this — is how incredibly persistent a mother in need can be," he told the Daily News. "It didn't become a question of whether we could, or do you think we should, or could this happen. There weren't any questions except, what do we need to do? How can we make this happen?"

Maan’s initial six-hour surgery was described “as complex as surgery gets” by Staffenberg, since it’s a very dangerous surgery to begin with, and he’s Staffenberg’s youngest patient ever to have this operation. The toddler’s rare genetic disorder has prevented his skull from growing normally, and has affected the shape of the head and face. According to the Genetics Home Reference, the abnormal growth of these bones leads to bulging and wide-set eyes, a high forehead, an underdeveloped upper jaw, and a beaked nose, like Maan.

The boy’s initial surgery in June was highlighted in a myFace Happy Father’s Day post praising the family for traveling to New York City for Maan to receive the crucial treatment. The initial procedure left Maan with tiny screws in the back of his head that required Priya to turn each day. This would help continue the bones’ movement, easing pressure on his brain, eyes, and airway.

Maan after second surgery in August
Photo courtesy of myFace/Facebook. myFace/Facebook

“We turn the screws in Maan’s head, as per the instructions we were given,” Priya said, Everyday Health reported in July. “In a few weeks we will stop turning the screws, and Maan will have another surgery to remove the screws and further test his eyes.”

Now, two months later, Maan has received his second operation to remove the screws from the back of his head. The toddler is now healing, and both parents have noticed a huge difference in their child. "He's much happier," Priya told the Daily News. “He sleeps well and his snoring has stopped. Before surgery he didn't play with other children. He was not so confident. [Now] he likes to go to public places. He plays with other kids and no one looks at him."

Although the family had nothing to help their child, seeing Maan improve has given them everything they’ve hoped for.