December 17, 1995
Web posted at: 7:25 a.m. EST
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Confident doctors said Saturday that 7-year-old Chelsey Thomas' is likely to break her first smile soon.
Chelsey underwent 11 hours of surgery on Friday to replace a key nerve in her face that controls facial expressions. Chelsey was born without the nerve and has never been able to smile.
"We're extremely pleased with the surgery and are optimistic," Kaiser Permanente senior surgeon Avron Daniller said in a statement. " The muscle has enough tension so that she looks as if she wants to smile."
Chelsey was in good condition, but must remain still for about five days in the hospital. She may be able to return to school within a week of returning home.
Doctors will not know for about three months if the surgery was successful. If it works, a second nerve transplant will be done to the other side of her face.
"The benefit of surgery on a child is that they're elastic and bounce back," said Dr. Ronald Zuker, the Canadian-based doctor who performed the surgery. "I'm confident this is going to be a success."
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