NEW YORK -- An 18-year-old with a life-threatening facial growth is finally able to live a normal life. And on Monday, he got the chance to thank the doctors who saved him.
Zoubir Lahdodi of Morocco unveiled his new look at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side.
Photos show him before and after the series of seven life-saving surgeries to help what Dr. Milton Waner called "ticking time bomb."
"This is a collection of very dilated abnormal veins," Dr. Waner said. "As he becomes older, these veins become more and more dilated."
Dr. Waner said the growth could have ruptured due to even a slight facial injury, causing Lahdodi to bleed to death. It made it hard for Lahdodi to eat, sleep, talk and breathe, and it also made his love of stunt bike riding a potentially fatal hobby.
As a surprise for his new opportunities, his medical team gifted him a bike and a helmet.
"It's work from the heart," Dr. Waner said. "It's very very important to me. This is why I became a doctor, to be able to help people."
The medical team brought Lahdodi and his mother from Morocco to New York, where they performed the surgeries pro bono.
"It's great happiness that (I) feel all the time now," Aicha Lahdodi said through a translator.
While he may have to come back for corrective plastic surgery down the line, mother and son are now preparing to fly home to Morocco, where Lahdodi plans to go back to school.
"(I) cannot thank them enough, because they bring back (my) life again," he said.
It is a life he looks forward to living, one stunt at a time.