METRO NEWS UK – A woman left blind when her pet dog chewed her face off can see again after 100 operations to restore her sight.
Wendy Hamriding was knocked unconscious when she fell down the stairs at her home in Preston, Lancashire.
She woke up in agony two hours later covered in blood after her dog, Cassie, had chewed at her face.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback had desperately tried to rouse the grandmother after her fall – then became more frantic as she failed to wake up.
Unable to curb its natural instincts, the dog started to nibble at the 53-year-old’s face until it had eaten her right eye and the bone around the socket.
Mrs Hamriding could still see out of her left eye but had been so badly mauled she lost her remaining sight during extensive plastic surgery.
She was blind for two years while she underwent a series of complex operations known as ‘tooth-in-eye’ surgery to restore sight in her left eye.
The procedure – known as osteo odonto keratoprosthesis – is a two-stage procedure which uses one of the patient’s canine teeth.
It is removed, shaped and drilled to allow the implantation of an artificial corneal device, which is then implanted into the eye.
Mrs Hamriding, who lives alone, now has tunnel vision in her left eye and has seen her two sons, aged 33 and 19, and two grandchildren for the first time since the attack in December 2011.
Her dog was put down, but bizarrely Mrs Hamriding says she owes her life to it because it saved her from an early grave through alcoholism.
Since the incident Wendy says she has kicked the bottle and now devotes her life to helping alcoholics and drug addicts. She used to down a bottle of vodka a day and believes she was weeks away from dying as a result of her own addiction.
Mrs Hamriding said: ‘Cassie saved my life. I would rather be blind than dead.
‘Before this happened, I was drunk from the moment I woke up,’ she added. ‘I knew alcohol was killing me, but I could not stop drinking.
‘I lost my eye and I lost my dog, but it was the best thing that could have happened.
‘I was in hospital for three months and they reckoned if she’d done it on the left hand side, where my brain is, I wouldn’t have survived.
‘They had to rebuild a lot – the palate was taken out of my mouth to rebuild my eye socket.’
Mrs Hamriding was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital where plastic surgeons rebuilt her face using skin from her stomach and leg.
She explained: ‘The problem was that the skin was too coarse and was damaging the sight I had left.’
Consultant Mark Vose referred Wendy to Brighton-based specialist Professor Christopher Liu who makes false corneas using the ‘tooth-in-eye’ surgery.
Mrs Hamriding said: ‘When they first told me that my tooth was going to be put into my eye to make me see, it sounded like something from off a film.
‘But I trusted Mr Vose and was willing to give it a try. It sounds surreal, but it really does work.’
Wendy is overcome when she recalls the moment she was able to see grandchildren Lily, 11, and Josh, ten, once more.
She said: ‘Being able to see again is so amazing. Words cannot describe how wonderful it is.’
She added: ‘Since the accident, I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol. After what happened to me I want to help people with addictions. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I did.’
Defending the pet she had owned for 10 years, Mrs Hamriding said: ‘Cassie did not do it as something vicious. Even though I could see the damage she had done to my face, I knew she had saved my life. She was just trying to wake me up but had gone too far. Sadly, she had to be put down because she had tasted blood.’
Mark Vose, consultant ophthalmologist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Wendy’s courage has got her to where she is today. She was not afraid of giving anything a go.’