Adan Mejiea now has a functional nose thanks to the host family continuing to fight for his medical treatment.
ZEELAND, Mich. (WZZM) - A Zeeland family is helping a teenage boy get a nose after living without that part off his face for most of his life.
Honduran-born Adan Mejiea now has a functional nose thanks to the host family continuing to fight for his medical treatment.
On good days, Adan pictures himself being a soccer player. But sometimes he's startled by a different image.
"When I look in the mirror, I see another person inside of me, but I just have to come out," says Adan.
"When he was two months old he had an infection in his nasal area," says Sherri Gebben, Adan's host mother. "The doctors in Honduras basically cut a hole in the center of his face including the bone."
In 2007, Adan was introduced to Gebben and had his first surgery to build a new nose.
"There was no foundation to build it on, so it collapsed in," says Gebben.
The surgery didn't work and Adan was sent back to his family in Honduras. However, the Gebben family didn't give up.
"Our biggest struggle was the U.S. Embassy and trying to get him a visa," says Gebben.
In April, the Adan and the Gebben family had their biggest success. Adan had a 13-hour surgery to fill the hole in his skull and build him a new nose.
"All the nurses came in and hugged him and said to him, 'You look so great.' I walked out and said to him, 'When's the last time you heard that you look great?' He said, 'I've never had that'," says Gebben.
But after Adan's most recent surgery, the Gebben family discovered that when he was sleeping he was banging his head against the bed and injuring his nose. The family has since gotten him a temporary mask to wear.
Adan says he still struggles with other common activities.
"I see other people talk clear and smell. Sometimes I can't do that and it just makes me sad," says Adan.
"We'll take one step forward and two steps back," says Gebben.
Gebben says she's leaving the rest in God's hands.
Adan has a visa that expires in 2016. He says he's not sure if he will stay in the U.S. or move back with his family in Honduras.
The Gebben family is also working with church groups to help Adan's family build a new home in Honduras.