Woman set for final surgery to fix jaw after cancer misdiagnosis


by Alex Schuman


Posted on June 18, 2014 at 11:23 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 23 at 8:33 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)—WHAS11 has followed the journey of Lessya Kotelevskaya since she came to Kentucky thanks to her cousin.

Now, she is set to have her final operation to fix her jaw after receiving treatment for cancer she never actually had.

Kotelevskaya takes English classes, but still needs her cousin Oleg Sennik to translate.

"She never believe it was going to happen," Sennik said.

She cannot wait for her last big operation on Monday morning.  The surgery will last at least twenty-four hours.

"We have a lot of patients with this problem, but of the patients with this problem - this is about as bad as it gets," Dr. Jarrod Little, a UofL plastic surgeon said.

Little will be doing the entire procedure for free. 

"She has a terrible problem.  I know how to fix it.  The rest is immaterial from my concerns," Little said.

Dr. Little will go the entire twenty-four hours without a nap or break so she spends as little time as possible on anesthesia.

"It's actually coming up and she can't even sleep the last few weeks,” Sennik said. “She thinks about it all the time."

Since WHAS11 last spoke to Kotelevskaya, she experienced her first American Christmas, placed her son into school and got a driver's license.

"She says anywhere she goes people recognize her.  Some people bought her coffees at Starbucks and people give her flowers," Sennik said for Kotelevskaya.

Here's a look underneath Kotelevskaya’s bandages at her jaw.  Dr. Little will use part of her fibia, a leg bone, to rebuild the entire right side of her jaw.

"The bone is still attached to the skin of the leg so that skin will then become the new inside of the mouth," Little explained.

Dr. Little has performed this surgery many times.  He expects Kotelevskaya will be in the hospital for at least three weeks to recover, then she will be able to begin a new life - with a new jaw.

"She's going to be the happiest person in the world," Sennik said.

The highest risk for her will during the first few days after the surgery.