Beverly Hills plastic surgeon provides services to domestic abuse victims
By LA Stories Staff Los Angeles
UPDATED 8:45 PM PT Jan. 22, 2024 PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Jan. 22, 2024
Dr. Marc Mani may be known as one of the top plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills, but he says some of his most fulfilling work comes during his off time.
That is when he volunteers as the lead surgeon for Face Forward International, a nonprofit that provides life-changing surgeries and services to hundreds of survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and other crimes. The organization operates in 14 different countries and provides wraparound services in addition to surgery, such as emotional support services, prescriptions and even temporary housing.
For Mani, it’s a chance to use his skills to help those most in need.
“The human face is something that is such a part of our identity as individuals,” he said, “So when you look at these people that have had their face taken away by these injuries, what you see is that they really haven’t lost their humanity. In fact, they’ve gained more because of the way they can inspire other people by overcoming their injuries with the support that they get.”
In the latest episode of “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez,” three of Mani’s patients open up about their experience with Face Forward International. Dan Shieshie Matakayia, from Kenya, was attacked with sulfuric acid in his sleep by his ex-wife.
The acid ate into his skin and eyes, causing him to lose his eyesight and have burns on his face and body. Through Face Forward, he says he feels more like himself again after multiple surgeries.
“I thank God for everything, just being here and getting that access to those qualified, top-notch doctors to work on me,” he said. “They have really supported us. We feel we are home away from home. And that’s big. It’s part of healing.”
Rebecca Ayebazibwe, from Uganda, is another acid attack survivor. With the help of Face Forward and Mani, she is regaining her confidence and spirit. Now, she wants to help people the way that she has been helped.
“My big dream is to be a voice to the voiceless domestic violence victims,” she said. “We have to accept what happened. This happened but we still have life and life has to continue moving.”
Saundra Crockett was just 28 years old when her ex-husband hit her so hard he caused an infection that made her face swell and decay from a flesh-eating bacteria. She couldn’t eat for months because of the damage done to her face, and she hid behind a surgical mask for 12 years. She says Mani and Face Forward gave her her life back.
“I feel pretty confident that I’ve been through a lot of things and I’ve come out, I think, a better person,” she said.
While Mani says he’s happy to play a role in their transformations, he admits that he himself has been transformed through the process.
“I feel that I’ve gotten more from them than they’ve gotten from me by far, just seeing, especially the support they give each other,” he said, “And so it’s just given me such a great sense of gratification…especially to be offering it to people that are this much in need, that you can really restore a part of their soul and their ability to look in the mirror.”