Kodie Brown, shot in face by father, receives free plastic surgery
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - We met Kodie Brown, nickname Koko, who just turned three years old. She was with her grandfather, Derrick Ferguson, a D.C. Police officer, and they had just returned from Los Angeles along with grandmother Roshann Ferguson, where on March 28, Kodie underwent the first of a series of surgeries from the Face Forward Clinic – free of charge.
"Face Forward L.A., they were like heaven-sent because we didn't know how we were going to get the surgery done," said Derrick.
Kodie's injuries are the result of an argument between her parents at this Minnesota and 18th SE bus stop when Kodie was just 20 months old. With Kodie in her arms, the mother – 19-year-old Salina Brown, tried to board the bus when the father – 27-year-old Javon Foster – started shooting.
One of the 40-caliber bullets went through Salina’s face then struck Kodie’s face. Salina died as a result, and the father fled and later killed himself. Kodie was hospitalized in critical condition.
"You couldn't even tell that she had eyes or a nose because the bullet ripped all that," said Derrick.
D.C. groups have tried to help the family, including activist and WPFW radio personality Roach Brown, who did a live nationwide broadcast on Christmas Day about Kodie:
"Somebody, they called from California, from Beverly Hills and said they would provide the surgery that she needs -- free of charge. Tears came to my eyes man."
"Once I heard that, I had to find the people, it was too heartbreaking not to," said Deborah Alessi.
We spoke with Deborah Alessi via Skype. Her husband, Dr. David Alessi, is a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. They give back by helping victims of domestic violence, and flew Kodie and her grandparents to L.A. to work on her facial wounds – with even more work to come.
"We can only do a bit of surgery at this point because of her age, but as the years go on, we'll be here for her," said Alessi.
The hope is that with time, the scars will be all but gone. For now, her grandparents worry when the other children stare:
"We really have to shower her with love because at one point, we were sitting down and she was like, 'I'm ugly,' and we were like, 'No, you're not ugly, you're beautiful.'"