Boy Who Can't Smile Gets Life-Changing Surgery

An eight-year-old boy born without the ability to have a full smile has successfully undergone a life-changing surgery and was today given the green-light to go home.

Ashley Keffer, of Hopewell, Virginia, says her son Jordan is recovering well from a nine-hour surgery that took place last Friday—transferring a small muscle from his thigh to his face. The procedure built on work started roughly 12 months ago that used a nerve from his leg.

Reconstructive surgery was needed to counteract the limited movement caused by facial palsy, which left the child with restricted eye movement and the inability to have a complete smile. Until now, the boy's mouth would only curl up on one side. Doctors are already seeing progress.

"Someone's going home!" Keffer wrote in a Facebook update today, alongside a picture of her son standing beside a hospital bed and wearing a T-shirt reading "facial palsy warrior."

The Virginia mom's emotional status update continued: "Doctor came in and said you just had major surgery and you look amazing! Dr. Black said you making us look good Jordan. He said he didn't expect Jordan to bounce back so soon and don't see any reason to keep him here."

Good Morning 🌞 Someone's going home!!!! Doctor came in and said You just had major surgery and you look amazing! Dr....

Posted by Ashley Keffer on Monday, July 29, 2019

Keffer has been posting regular video updates to social media in recent weeks, documenting her son's road to surgery. In one post yesterday, she explained her son had received more than 30 stitches on his face during the lengthy procedure, which took place at UVA in Charlottesville.

She said the treatment lasted about nine hours—from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.—and it is believed that the boy is the first child to have the invasive muscle surgery in the state.

"I think it's really neat they were able to use other body parts, and these are body parts that he won't even know were taken," the mother said in a video uploaded to Facebook on Sunday. "He won't know that muscle was taken. He won't know that nerve was taken," she added.

According to the family, doctors found the boy was born with a muscle in his face but it wasn't properly connected via nerves and blood flow. As a result, it simply turned to fat.

"Facial Palsy is very uncommon, such a rare disease," Keffer wrote July 27. " They never know what causes this. I had a very healthy pregnancy, and was always told, it just happens, it's kind of bad luck. But now we know!! This isn't the case for everyone but this is Jordan's diagnosis and I am ecstatic to finally have an answer that I've searched for the past 8 years."

A GoFundMe, set up to help cover medical costs, has raised more than $1,400 to date and attracted a slew of positive messages.

UVA medical experts estimated that it could be six months before the boy is able to smile, and he still has to go through physical therapy. The head stitches will be removed in August. In an update on Saturday, the day after the surgery, Keffer said the results had already been promising. "He definitely looks different," Keffer told CBS 6. "I said, 'Where's my son?' And he said, 'Right here.'"

Jordan Keffer
Ashley Keffer, of Hopewell, Virginia, says her son Jordan is recovering well from a nine-hour surgery that took place last Friday (June 26). Ashley Keffer/Facebook