Assault victim meets the surgeon who rebuilt his face

Peter Fisher visit

From left to right: Brian Fisher, Rebecca Dickinson, Dr Swee Tan, Peter Fisher, Noeline Fisher, Dr Tinte Itinteang (Courtesy of Maarten Holl – The Dominion Post)

A Martinborough man brutally beaten in 2012 has finally met the plastic surgeon who put his face back together.

In a heartfelt meeting at the GMRI, Peter Fisher thanked Dr Swee Tan, who spent five hours piecing together his face like a jigsaw puzzle after it was all but destroyed in an attack.

“I’ve always wanted to meet the man behind the scalpel,” Mr Fisher said.

“My partner was a bit disappointed I didn’t come out like George Clooney.”

Mr Fisher was beaten in October 2012 in his hometown, Martinborough, after going to the aid of a friend’s daughter.

He spent 78 days in hospital and in rehabilitation, learning to walk again after a brain injury and stroke.

He suffered extensive fractures to his face, including broken cheekbones, upper jaw, nose, eye sockets and three dislodged teeth. He was taken by ambulance to Wellington Regional Hospital, and Dr Tan operated on him at Hutt Hospital a week later.

Dr Tan said the only other time he had previously seen such severe injuries was on plane crash victims.

Mr Fisher’s father, Brian, said his son was unrecognisable when he came into intensive care, but as soon as he returned from under Dr Tan’s scalpel they could see their son again.

“Despite the extensive injuries, Dr Tan didn’t leave a single scar on Peter’s face; one would never know his face is held together by titanium plates.

It’s a bit therapeutic to meet and thank you personally,” he told Dr Tan.

“The fact that he was injured not by accident, but deliberately, really upset me,” Dr Tan said.

“I’m very impressed by how far you’ve come. You had courage, and your courage carried on through your recovery,” he told Mr Fisher.

Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic Rebecca Dickinson, who tended to Mr Fisher on the night of the attack, said it was the hardest job of her career so far.

Mr Fisher, who does not remember anything of the night, said the accounts from Dr Tan, Ms Dickinson and his family helped him piece together what happened.