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                         The miracle maker
                         Doc puts smiles                        Dr. Timothy Miller calls it “a privilege”
                                                                                                                                                                              shot dead
                                                                                                                                                                              A 26-YEAR-OLD man was
                                                                                                                                                                              gunned down early yesterday on
                                                                                                                                                                              a dead-end Harlem street shortly
                                                                                                                                                                              after he left a party at a communi-
                                                                to help soldiers, adding, “They have                                                                          ty center, police said.
                         back on faces                          given so much to me and our country.”
                                                                Photo by Robert Sabo/Daily News
                                                                                                                                                                                 Curtis Jackson was among a
                                                                                                                                                                              few hundred partygoers at a

                         of maimed G.I.s                                                                                                                                      bash thrown at the Hansborough
                                                                                                                                                                              Recreation Center on W. 134th
                                                                                                                                                                              St. and exchanged several “hard
                            BY STEPHANIE GASKELL                                                                                                                              looks and words” with another
                              DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER                                                                                                                         reveler just after 4 a.m., a police
                         ARMY SGT. DARRON Mike-                                                                                                                               source said.
                         worth was driving to Balad Air                                                                                                                          Jackson left the party but was
                         Base in Iraq on April 29, 2005,                                                                                                                      unable to escape his assailant,
                         when he saw the suicide bomb-                                                                                                                        who followed him to the end of
                         er approach his convoy. Next                                                                                                                         the street, pulled out a gun and
                         came the         explosion    that                                                                                                                   started shooting, police said.
                         changed his life forever.                                                                                                                               Jackson was hit in the chest
                            “I about had my head taken                                                                                                                        and back, police said. An uniden-
                         off,” said the 31-year-old father                                                                                                                    tified friend drove him to Harlem
                         of two young boys. “It broke ev-                                                                                                                     Hospital, where Jackson died at
                         ery bone in my face.”                                                                                                                                5:15 a.m., officials said.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Jackson, who lived in the
                            The attack nearly killed Mike-
                                                                                                                                                                              Bronx, had five prior arrests for
                         worth and left him terribly dis-
                                                                                                                                                                              drugs and robbery, but it was un-
                         figured. He lost his nose, left
                                                                                                                                                                              clear if his criminal past was con-
                         eye and use of his right arm.
                                                                                                                                                                              nected to the shooting, the police
                            Now with the help of one of                                                                                                                       source said.
                         the top plastic surgeons in the                                                                                                                         The gunman fled the area on
                         country, he’s getting his face —                                                                                                                     foot and remained at large late
                         and his life — back.                                                                                                                                 yesterday, police said.
                            Dr. Timothy Miller, chief of                                                                                                                                          Jonathan Lemire
                         plastic surgery at UCLA Medi-
                         cal Center, has teamed up with
                         the Brooke Army Medical Cen-
                         ter in San Antonio, Tex., and phi-
                                                                                                                                                                              Man critical in
                         lanthropist Ronald Katz to cre-
                         ate Operation Mend, a program        cident and move on with my ca-
                                                                                                                                                                              Queens car flip
                         that provides reconstructive sur-                                                                                                                    A BMW flipped over after it hit a
                         gery to injured soldiers.               Operation Mend has provid-
                                                                                                                                                                              light pole while exiting a Queens
                            “It’s pretty much a godsend,”     ed reconstructive surgery for                                                                                   highway, leaving a 33-year-old
                         said Mikeworth, stationed at         four soldiers. Two others will be                                                                               man in critical condition, police
                         Fort Polk, La., but recovering       added next month. The pro-                                                                                      said yesterday.
                         from his third plastic surgery at    gram relies solely on donations                                                                                    Natasya Kontonis, 23, was be-
                         Brooke.                              to pay for the surgeries, which                                                                                 hind the wheel of a 1994 BMW
                                                              can cost up to $500,000.                                                                                        325i driving west on the Grand
                            “Dr. Miller is just a miracle
                                                                 “We’re trying to make these                                                                                  Central Parkway at 8:15 p.m. Fri-
                         worker. He’s given me hope that
                                                              young men look as normal as                                                                                     day when she tried to take the
                         I can move on with this entire in-
                                                              possible,” said Miller, a Vietnam                                                                               off-ramp at 94th St., police said.
                                                              veteran. “No matter what peo-                                                                                   The car hit the pole, spun out of
                                                              ple feel about the war, there’s                                                                                 control and flipped over, police
                           OPERATION MEND                     not one person who doesn’t
                                                              want to help these people.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Kontonis suffered minor cuts
                           SOLDIERS’ FRIEND                      “We recognize the sacrifice
                                                              they’ve made for our country.”
                                                                                                                                                                              and bruises, but her passenger,
                                                                                                                                                                              Michael Abate, was taken to Elm-
                           OPERATION MEND pro-                                                                                                                                hurst Hospital Center with se-
                           vides advanced plastic sur-           Marine Sgt. Octavio Sanchez
                                                                                                                                                                              vere injuries, police said. Abate
                           gery to soldiers who have          was blown up by a makeshift
                                                                                                                                                                              was in critical condition yester-
                           been severely disfigured by        roadside bomb in Ramadi on
                                                                                                                                                                              day, officials said.
                           injuries suffered in combat        June 16, 2005.                                                                                                     The cause of the crash was un-
                           in Iraq and Afghanistan.              He suffered third-degree                                                                                     der investigation. No charges
                                                              burns over 70% of his face and                                                                                  have been filed against Kontonis.
                              The surgery is provided

                                                              body and lost his right hand.                                                                                                      Jonathan Lemire
                           at no cost by some of the na-
                                                                 “I didn’t have a problem with
                           tion’s leading plastic sur-
                                                              the way I looked,” said the
                           geons, including Dr. Timo-
                           thy Miller, chief of plastic
                                                              27-year-old father of four who                                                                                  That’s a gem of a car wash
                                                              lives in San Antonio. “I’m not                                                                                  ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Car
                           surgery at UCLA Medical
                                                              ashamed of what happened to                                                                                     cleaners at a Russian firm got a
                           Center. The operations can
                                                              me. I’m actually proud of what                                                                                  surprise when they cleaned out a
                           cost up to $500,000 per
                                                              I’ve done.                                                                                                      vacuum cleaner last week: a dia-
                                                                 “But I took a step back and                                                                                  mond pendant worth up to

                              The Katz Family Founda-         said, ‘Well, if they can help me                                                                                $475,000.
                           tion in California has fund-       out and reconstruct my nose                                                                                         “I didn’t know how much it
                           ed the initial efforts of Oper-    and take some attention from         Photo chart shows progress of surgery on Sgt. Octavio Sanchez. Dr.
                                                                                                                                                                              was worth at first, so I got a jewel-
                           ation Mend. The Intrepid           me,’ I saw it as a plus for my       Timothy Miller fixed Sanchez’s face after growing new nose, using
                                                                                                                                                                              er to come around,” said
                           Relief Fund pays for sol-          children. It hit them pretty bad     piece of rib, on Sanchez’s forehead, then grafting it into place.          Vladimir Shapiro, owner of the
                           diers and their families to        when I got hurt.”                                                                                               car cleaning firm in St. Peters-
                           travel to and from UCLA                                                 he does,” Sanchez said. “He’s           Katz, a UCLA Medical Center
                                                                 Sanchez has had six opera-        been blessed.”                       board member, said it’s impor-        burg.
                           Medical Center.
Sunday, April 13, 2008

                                                              tions. Miller was able to take           To hear Miller talk about his    tant for the private sector to get        “When I heard the value, my
                              To learn more or donate         one of his ribs and construct a      work, it’s easy to see how ful-      involved.                             jaw dropped to the floor,” he
                           money to the fund, visit the       nose on his forehead. Once the       filled he is by treating the sol-       “The soldiers need to have ac-     said.
                           UCLA        Web      site    at    blood supply was in place, Mill-     diers. “For me, it’s a privilege,”   cess to not only the best the mili-       “You would have to notice los-
                         er lifted the new nose from his      he said. “They have given so         tary has to offer, but also the       ing something like this.”
                           gery.                              forehead and moved it to its         much to me and our country.          best the private sector has to of-        He said he was not going to dis-
                                       Stephanie Gaskell      proper place.                        We’re grateful to be able to oper-   fer,” he said.                        close much about the pendant so
                                                                 “It’s amazing the work that       ate on them.”                            that he could return it to its own-
                                                                                                                                                                              er.                          Reuters

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