Invited to Appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show,
DOCS Surgeons Have Offered Hope to San Diego Woman
Neurofibromatosis Patient Ana Rodarte

Meet the Surgeons Who Gave Ana Rodarte the Courage to Face the World

Ana Rodarte before and after

DOCS surgeons Munish Batra, M.D., F.A.C.S., and Michael Halls, M.D., F.R.C.S., F.A.C.S., led the team that reconstructed the face of neurofibromatosis patient Ana Rodarte with the critical help of maxillofacial surgeon Andrew Chang, M.D., D.D.S., neurosurgeon Lokesh Tantuwaya, M.D., plastic surgeon Alfonso Camberos, M.D., reconstructive ophthalmological surgeon Don Kikkawa, M.D., and restorative cosmetic dentist James Tasto, D.D.S.

On Thursday, May 06th, 2010, The Oprah Winfrey Show broadcast a special segment in celebration of the bravery and endurance of Ana Rodarte and her surgical successes. Drs. Batra and Halls were invited to be present to answer technical questions and share her story. She has now embarked on a more productive life after her significant facial deformities have been greatly improved.

A mistaken impression that Neurofibromatosis is also referred to as "Elephant Man Disease" may have been suggested at the airing of Ana's story. As stated in the information below, John Merrick, with whom the pejorative name is associated actually suffered from Proteus syndrome. The DOCS organization regrets any confusion the audience may have after the program.

Ana Rodarte was born with neurofibromatosis (also called NF-1) which is a genetic disorder that causes large but otherwise benign thick tumors to grow in various places on the body. Underlying anatomical structures are affected as well. By the time Ana had reached DOCS, she was unable to see from her left eye, had difficulty hearing, breathing, eating, communicating, and sleeping, all owing to the size of the tumor spreading across her face. After nearly 4 years and 7 major surgical procedures that would not be covered by insurance, Ana had improved each of those impairments that were threatening her health.

As seen on the show, the social stigma can be immense for disfiguring forms of NF. Conditions resembling neurofibromatosis were brought more to the public awareness with the 1980s movie and play "The Elephant Man" which chronicled the life of John Merrick in the 1800s. The offensive term "elephant man disease" is a misnomer for NF, as John Merrick suffered from another disease called Proteus syndrome. It is similarly disfiguring, causing rough thickening of disorganized skin and connective tissue that can arise in both conditions. In any case, the use of such flippant language to describe any such serious disease is equally unkind. With additional understanding and surgical methods for removing the tumors, more fulfilling lives may be enjoyed by these patients who have a disfiguring form of NF.

Join us in wishing Ana continued health and bright prospects as she starts a new life!

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