Three years after grizzly bear attack, man goes through remarkable journey to save his face

Posted at 1:36 PM, Jul 18, 2019

WARNING: Some viewers may find some of the content in this video difficult to watch.

Three years ago, Lee Brook went on a hunting trip with family in the mountains of Wyoming. One day, while hauling elk back to his camp, Brook encountered a grizzly bear.

Before Brook's could react, the grizzly started to attack him.

During the attack, Brook says he remembered saying to himself, "Lord I can use a little help about now. Not really understanding he'd already been at work, because I'm alive."

Brook, whose face was disfigured in the gruesome incident, is still recovering.

He says he lost consciousness during the attack. When he awoke, Brook could hear the bear sniffing him. He recalls reaching for his knife and stabbing the bear, before quickly making his escape. Badly injured, Brook says he saw his nose on the ground. He quickly grabbed it, put it in his pocket and ran, screaming for help.

Brook was flown to Swedish Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, where he was placed into a coma for 30 days. Miraculously, Brook lived. Then, his remarkable facial reconstruction journey began.

Plastic surgeons Dr. Lily Daniali and Dr. Benson Pulikkottil--a husband and wife duo who work at the hospital’s burn and reconstructive center--were in charge of reconstructing Brook’s face.

Areas of Brook’s face that sustained the most damage were his nose and upper lip. Fortunately, doctors had Brook’s nose.

"Ultimately, we took a chance to see if it would take, which it did," says Dr. Pulikkottil.

But how the doctors were able to save his nose is a miracle within itself. The surgeons sewed Brook’s nose to his forearm to keep it alive. Meanwhile, Brook underwent dozens of surgeries.

Doctors used cartilage and tissue from all over his body to put his face back together. Using skin from his legs, the surgeons created a new upper lip for Brook. Hair on his head was used to create a mustache.

This week, the surgeons were finally able to reattach Brook’s nose to his face. They say the surgery was successful and Brook is doing well.

“I'm super proud of him, super proud," says Brook’s wife, Martha, who has been his side through it all.

The Brooks have kept their spirits bright, but there’s one thing Brook says he’ll miss the most about his old life.

“I'll never feel my wife kiss,” Brook says. “I'll never. That's probably the biggest one for me."

Following the surgery, Brook lost the ability to feel in some places of his face.

However, his wife says the most important thing is her husband is the same person.

“The whole fact that the way he looks is not his focus, and he’s still the [same] Lee,” she says.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help with Brook’s medical bills.