By Nigel Boys
In June 2014, 6-year-old Zainabou Drame was playing in the street with her 9-year-old brother, when she was savagely attacked by pit bulls, leaving her fighting for her life and relying on life-support machines to keep her alive.
Fifteen months later, the now 7-year-old girl, who had to be placed into a medically induced coma on account of her severe injuries, is trying to resume her life, which can never again be described as normal.
Zainabou was left with no tongue, most of her teeth and a third of her jaw bone missing in the attack by a neighbor’s dogs in 2014. She is now struggling to learn to live with the scars which will be with her for the rest of her life, according to the Daily Mail.
The news outlet reports that after a dozen surgeries to repair her face, Zainabou will still have to face many more as doctors attempt to make her suffering more bearable in the future. However, she will still not be able to eat or drink through her mouth for the rest of her life, depending on a feeding tube in her stomach for nourishment to enter her body.
The savage attack in which witnesses saw one dog “thrashing his head back and forth” with Zainabou in its mouth, also left her without the ability to breathe on her own. She now relies on a tube in her throat, which is often in danger of being clogged, according to Cincinnati.com.
The young girl, who loves to play with her older brother and watch her favorite film, “Frozen,” has learned to use sign language to communicate with her family since the attack, as she was left without the ability to speak. She’s still trying to learn how to speak again, despite severe complications and hasn’t lost the desire to become a dancer when she grows up, according to her family.
“I pray to God every day that she get(s) back to (a) normal life, like everybody,” said her proud father Abdoulaye Drame, adding that his daughter returned to school just three months after the attack. The Senegal-native went on to say that Zainabou has a nurse assigned to her at school, just in case her breathing tube gets clogged and to help her hook up her feeding tube.
“I have seen her have such courage. She’s honestly a ray of light in the way she just takes on every day,” said Monica Battle, the principal at Zainabou’s school, College Hill Fundamental Academy. “She’s been an inspiration to children and adults alike,” she added.
9WCPO Cincinnati reports that since Zainabou’s medical bills are already over the $1 million mark, her parents decided to sue the dog’s owner, 24-year-old Zontae Irby and his mother, who owns the home where he was staying at the time of the attack.
Despite Judge Jody Luebbers ordering this week that the Drame family should be paid $7.5 million by mother and son, they are unlikely to see much of that since Irby is now in prison for marijuana trafficking, the news outlet reports.
Irby’s mother, Volores White, claims that she should not be held responsible for the payment since the dogs did not belong to her and the attack did not happen on her property.
“If you can have it, we can have it, but if we can’t, we can do nothing,” Abdou said, adding that he was resigned to the fact the family would likely not receive any money from Irby or his mother. He went on to say that even so, he was very grateful for the Cincinnati Police and other groups, who have raised funds for the family.
“I am a man of scriptures,’ said Zainabou’s grandfather, Leslie McElrath Jr. Adding that he forgives the dog’s owner, he continued, “The angry man does not receive the righteousness of God.”
“I’m sad. But I’m not angry,” McElrath continued. “I’m quiet because I’m praying to God to take care of her.”