In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

September 22, 2016

Three Years After Accident, Amber Rose’s Smile Shines Brighter

By In the Loop

Amber Rose Kordiak has endured years of surgery and hospital stays since a near-fatal farm accident three years ago. The sweet and spirited 10-year-old has smiled through it all. Now, that smile stands to get even bigger, thanks to reconstructive surgery at Mayo Clinic.

On July 6, 2013, 7-year-old Amber Rose Kordiak stepped outside to ask her father, Jesse, if he needed any help on the farm. On her way back inside, she noticed a large tractor tire leaning up against a barn. She then did what comes naturally to children: She climbed onto it. Jesse started to tell her not to play on the tire, but before he could finish his warning, the 600-pound tire was tipping over on top of Amber Rose. According to KSTP-TV, the tire's "6-inch metal rim sliced right through her face." Jesse tells the station, "I ran over there and lifted it up and I just tried to hold her face together," and adds, "I just thought she was going to die right there."

But Amber Rose survived. Her journey to recovery has been a long one, eventually bringing her to Mayo Clinic. But it began in the family car, as Jesse and Amber Rose's mother, Jen, raced to meet the ambulance to transport their daughter to the hospital. The paramedics were shocked by what they saw. "They were standing there with their mouths open," Jen tells the station. According to Amber Rose's CaringBridge site, the accident "completely destroyed" the facial bone under her right eye and severed nerves on her face. In addition, "her nose bone was completely severed from the bottom of her nose." Amber Rose was airlifted to a Twin Cities hospital. "I don't know how she made it," Jen tells KSTP.

After weeks in the hospital, Amber Rose was able to go home. But her healing was just beginning. She's faced multiple surgeries and received treatment for a traumatic brain injury. And she's faced something else as well: the curious eyes of strangers. "It's a natural human instinct to stare at something you don't understand," Jen tells the station.

Last year, after receiving care at "numerous hospitals" and from "dozens of doctors," the Kordiaks were told nothing else could be done for their daughter. Then, "with fingers crossed, Jen reached out to Mayo Clinic," where a team led by Uldis Bite, M.D., came up with a new plan for Amber Rose. Dr. Bite used "a 3-D model, made on the Mayo campus" to help plan out the extensive facial reconstruction surgery. And last July — nearly three years to the day after the accident — Amber Rose underwent the 15-hour procedure. Six weeks later, at a follow-up appointment, Dr. Bite was pleased with the results. As was Amber Rose. "My nose looks way better," she said. "Nobody will stare at me."

Although she'll need additional surgeries, Amber Rose will be smiling — something her family was initially told wouldn't be possible after the accident. "She defied the odds," Jen tells the station. "I just love what she teaches us about love and people and mercy and beauty and she doesn't even know she does it."

Learn more about Amber Rose's story and see her Mayo surgical team in action by watching the KSTP story. (Have a tissue handy.) Then, you can leave a comment below before you share this story with others using the social media tools atop this page.

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Tags: Dr. Uldis Bite, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Patient Stories, Plastic Surgery, Reconstructive Surgery

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