Eliamys, 12, has faced many challenges in her young life, but she is happy to speak to anyone who may be curious about her. “I was born with a facial deformity,” Eliamys explains. “One of my eyes is bigger than the other one, and if you look at my face, you see that one side is more puffed up than the other.”

But the complex craniofacial surgery she underwent at Connecticut Children’s at age 5 changed her appearance dramatically. “When she was born, my whole hand fit between her eyes; it was like she had two different faces,” her mother, Lisa, says.

Lisa and her husband, Eliel, brought their daughter to a New York hospital in 2009 when there was nothing more the doctors in their native Puerto Rico could do. Ultimately, the family brought her to Connecticut Children’s, where she is followed by the Craniofacial Team.

During her first surgery, the doctors reconstructed her forehead, reconstructed her eyes and worked on aligning the right side of her face with the left. “The first one was an open-head surgery, ear to ear,” Lisa explains. “It was eyes, nose, forehead—there were like seven different things they needed to address, so they opened her from ear to ear.”

She will undergo at least one more complex surgery when she is 16.

Today, Eliamys is an active seventh-grader who enjoys social studies, is an honor roll student and serves as an English translator for Spanish-speaking students. She also loves to sing, plays volleyball and soccer and hopes to be a zoologist when she grows up. While it has been a long and difficult journey, her parents agree that Eliamys’ care at Connecticut Children’s has been exceptional. “It has been life-changing,” Lisa says.