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Long Island Toddler Forges Friendship With Plastic Surgeon Who Repaired Her Face Following Dog Mauling

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island toddler seriously injured by a dog celebrated her second birthday with a small gathering in Hicksville on Sunday.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, it reunited her with a plastic surgeon who will forever be the family's hero.

The party took place under a tent. With a mask was the guest of honor, a pint-sized survivor.

"She really is a miracle. She's my world," Diane Sansotta-Ingrasselino said.

dog mauling victim
Alessia Sansotta-Ingrasselino (Photo: CBS2)

Sansotta-Ingrasselino got the terrifying call on March 6 that her daughter, Alessia, was mauled by a family pet in the home of a relative who was babysitting the girl.

What the dog did to Alessia nearly killed her.

But there she was Sunday, happily blowing kisses to the doctor who fixed her face with a seven-hour surgery.

"Her nose was almost completely off. Her eyelids bones were broken," Dr. Rachel Ruotolo said. "They are so unbelievably resilient and brave. She's not even afraid of the type of animal that caused this."

"She's not afraid of dogs. She's not afraid of anything," Sansotta-Ingrasselino said.

Family videos from inside Cohen Children's Medical Center chart the girl's recovery.

"I sang to her every day," Sansotta-Ingrasselino said.

And after Alessia recovered enough to go home, she gleefully did her part to applaud medical workers.

This little girl has one very big fan -- her doctor.

"She's running around having fun today and you'd never know this horrific thing happened so recently," Ruotolo said.

Because she's a kid and has so much growing to do, there will be additional surgeries, Carlin reported.

"We use resorbable plates and screws, so it has great strength. They are around for two years, but they will dissolve," Ruotolo said. "She has a lot of bone missing on her upper jaw, which we will have to replace so she'll have teeth one day."

"She wants to go. She wants to learn. She wants to explore, Sansotta-Ingrasselino said.

Ruotolo said her little patient just became like family.

"I'm going to be with her as long as she's ... until she's an adult," Ruotolo said.

Together, they are forging a relationship of smiles and hope for the future.

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