During Mary Jo's first appearance, she said she continued to suffer from facial paralysis and ear damage from the shooting. Dr. Babak Azizzadeh, a reconstructive surgeon, was watching that show. "I said, 'This is someone I could definitely help,'" he says. "I decided that I'm going to try to get a team together to make her life better."
Dr. Azizzadeh says that the bullet traveled through the temporal bone in Mary Jo's face. This bone is connected to a facial muscle that allows expression and is also connected to her ear function. "The nerve was not completely cut but was partially cut during this gunshot wound," he says. "The nerve slowly had some return of function but not complete return."
The team planned a three-part reconstructive procedure. First was an asymmetric facelift to restore Mary Jo's smile and even out her face. Then they would perform a surgery to widen her ear canal to improve her hearing and prevent infections. And a physical therapist worked with Mary Jo to strengthen her facial muscles.