The miracle maker
Doc puts smiles Dr. Timothy Miller calls it “a privilege”
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.
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-
giving.ucla.edu/plasticsur- 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.” email@example.com that he could return it to its own-