Yaacov’s face had been shattered when an onslaught of Qassam rockets fell on Ashkelon, where he and his family were celebrating a happy occasion. He was rushed to Hadassah Hospital where the senior surgeons in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery were waiting for him.

The situation was grim; Yaacov’s jaw was severely fractured, many of his molar teeth were lost, and the thickened ridge of bone (the alveolar) that contained Yaacov’s tooth sockets was critically damaged.

During a four-hour operation, Hadassah’s surgeons aligned the broken ends of Yaacov’s jaw bone, and inserted a miniplate to hold them in place so that the fracture would knit straight. When Yaacov returned home, he was in constant pain. He had difficulty eating, talking, and even breathing. When he looked in the mirror, he saw a frighteningly disfigured face. But his morale and motivation remained intense. He performed his daily physical therapy, slowly and painfully pushing his mouth open, and went weekly to Hadassah for follow-up.

Yaacov’s jaw healed well, and the plate was removed from his mouth. Since he now lacked tooth sockets, there was nowhere to put replacement teeth. Hadassah’s maxillofacial surgeons began the long process of reconstructing and expanding Yaacov’s alveolar bone with a technique known as distraction osteogenesis. They created tiny surgical fractures in the bone, prompting the growth of soft tissue to fill the cracks and ultimately expand the volume of bone. Five months later, the alveolar was ready for tooth implants. Yaacov is now in his final stage of recovery, working hard to learn to eat and speak again.