'It then hit me how bad the damage was after convincing myself in the waiting room that it would be a small scar..,' said Harris.
Three years ago, Jamie Harris was viciously attacked by a dog. It led her to become a medical student at the University of Florida College of Medicine and treat patients. She wants to eventually become a dermatologist specializing in treating pediatric patients with traumatic scarring, according to Good Morning America. The dog attack left her with her own set of scars. "Every time I look in the mirror, I see my motivation. It's always a part of me and I know exactly what I'm working towards every single day when I wake up in the morning," said Harris. She is currently a member of the Medical Honors Program at the University of Florida. The course allows students to complete both a B.S. and an M.D. in seven years.
The horrifying incident happened on September 11, 2020. Harris had gone to her friend's apartment to study during her final year of undergraduate studies. A few hours later, they decided to take a break and watch TV. The friend's newly adopted dog was also with them and had been warming up to her since the afternoon. They were huddled up on the couch when Harris said the dog lunged onto her and clamped down underneath her right eye and forehead. Meanwhile also, scratching her chin and neck. Harris's friend managed to pull the dog off Harris and locked it in a nearby room. She rushed to the bathroom to see in the mirror how bad the injuries were. Then she was immediately taken to the emergency room. "It was all a blur," she said. "Still to this day, I ask myself, 'What did I do? Why did it attack me?'"
She was in the waiting room for five hours, constantly changing her bloody surgical face masks with clean ones. "I [went back and forth] between complete denial and survival mode every few minutes," she said. After which, she got top-tier care at the UF Health Shands Hospital. The plastic surgeons sutured her face in under an hour and sent her home. It was then that reality hit her. She said, "It then hit me how bad the damage was after convincing myself in the waiting room that it would be just a small scar on the side of my face."
Harris had to accept the reality of the attack that had left her with massive scarring that stretched from her forehead to her chin. She said that during the Zoom meeting era, she was constantly reminded of her injury. However, Harris thinks that she "couldn't have been luckier with my support system."
After Harris's mother saw her daughter's confidence plunge, she decided to find a solution for her scars. That is when she contacted Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanusali from Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery for Harris and he agreed to treat her. "He was the first person to tell me that I was going to be OK. Hearing that was enough. It was the first time someone was on my side who could actually do something," said Harris. Her treatment included three sessions with a Sciton Erbium laser to retexturize the scar and a Cutera XLV+ laser to help with redness. He also used a process called Device Assisted Precision Therapy in which he used lasers to deliver topical steroids into Harris' scars to help with product penetration. And towards the end, he used traditional steroid injections to soften any residual scar tissue.
The scars reportedly vanished in about six months. "Humanity in medicine is the most important part," said Bhanusali. "I was lucky to have been connected with Jamie and am happy I could help." That's not all. That's not all. Now as a medical student, she shadows Bhansali at his office in New York, where she gets to sit in one of his procedures and meets his patients, but she one day also wants to learn directly from the doctor the techniques used to treat her scars.