REBUILDING JOSH MANSOUR’S FACE
‘There were so many things that could’ve gone wrong with this surgery. I was petrified’
JOSH Mansour burst into tears.
Before he could even open his mouth, he was overwhelmed.
“I remember when I woke up I just broke down,” Mansour said.
“The first people I saw were my wife and daughter. When I could see them with my own eyes, words could not describe the relief that I had. It gave me goosebumps.”
More than seven hours earlier, the Panthers winger had been anaesthetised for an operation to repair what his surgeon described as the worst sporting injury he had ever seen. The doctor said the injury resembled that of a car crash victim or a soldier.
Mansour suffered five facial fractures from the knee of a flying Anthony Don while trying to catch a high ball (pictured, right).
“I was on the ground clutching my face and I could feel a hole in my face,” Mansour said.
“I had no cheekbone. There was a big hole there. It was painful. The physios wanted me to turn around but I didn’t want to show them because I was petrified of their reaction.
“The worst-case scenario was losing my eye.”
Mansour went into the operation knowing he could wake up minus an eye but also with the real prospect of having distorted vision for the rest of his life. His playing career was at risk but, more importantly, so was his ability to
clearly see his young daughter Siana’s smile.
“It’s been the most challenging couple weeks of my life,” said Mansour, who has 18 screws and three plates in his face. “So much stuff has gone through my mind.
“When it first happened I was feeling sorry for myself thinking, ‘Why me?’
“I was thinking about my footy career, life after footy.
“After the surgery I was sleep-deprived for 48 hours because they did visual observations to see if I lost my vision.
“There were so many things that could have gone wrong. I was petrified. I don’t remember the last time I was this nervous.
“We had two options for surgery. One was a small operation with multiple incisions; the other one was a big operation where they would cut me from the bottom of my left ear and go to my opposite ear and then peel my face forward. I would have lived with a massive scar for the rest of my life.
“The surgeon didn’t know until he saw what was going on. Luckily we went for the first option. I’ve thought of the worst-case scenarios but I’ve been very lucky.”
The swelling was so severe that it took two weeks before the surgeon could operate.
Unable to chew solid foods, his wife Daniella was pureeing food, just as she was doing for the couple’s six-month-old daughter.
“I was thinking of my daughter, that this is what it feels like to have this crap food,” Mansour said.
It is the second time in Mansour’s career that a freak injury has struck. He missed a large chunk of last season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in an Australian training session in England during the Kangaroos’ 2016 Four Nations campaign.
Mansour battled to regain confidence. But the off-contract Panther returns to training on Tuesday aiming to return by round 19.
“I feel like I’m cursed,” Mansour said. “After all this, it still doesn’t tell me that this is the end. It’s another obstacle.
“Things don’t go perfect for everyone. I feel this injury is completely different. I’ll be much more confident getting among it. With my knee it was different because the legs are the tools of the trade.
“It did scare me (being offcontract).
But I know this club can do what it can to keep me here.”
Josh Mansour after surgery for the horrible face knock he suffered against the Titans. Pictures: David Swift
Josh Mansour in hospital before surgery, and with wife Daniella and their daughter.