LA PAZ, Bolivia — A private plane carrying a Bolivian girl badly mauled by a Rottweiler left La Paz on Thursday en route to Boston, where plastic surgeons hope to operate on the 4-year-old's face and head to give her a normal life.
The case of Rosalia moved Bolivians as well as Bolivian businesswoman Claudia Tolay and her American husband, Dr. Joseph Currier, who led a campaign to get the girl to Boston.
"A team of plastic surgeons is awaiting Rosalia at Boston Children's Hospital" to evaluate her condition and decide on a plan for her treatment, Tolay told The Associated Press.
Her flight was expected to arrive in Boston Friday morning.
Rosalia was with her mother in a store in the poor suburb of El Alto outside Bolivia's capital in May when she was attacked by the storeowner's dog. The Rottweiler grabbed the girl's head and ripped off up to 70 percent of her scalp, doctors in Bolivia said. The dog left a wound so deep on her cheek that bone was visible, and its bites tore away skin, muscle and tissue from her head, face, back and buttocks, they said.
Her mother, Regina Pillco, said she couldn't get Rosalia out of the dog's jaws because she was carrying a newborn on her back.
"Every day children arrive at the hospital with dog bites, but I'd never seen wounds this severe," said Josef Henao, director of the state children's hospital in La Paz.
The girl was unconscious for nearly three weeks until last week, when she woke up, asked for her mother and began crying. Doctors said earlier this week that Rosalia's condition had improved enough for her to fly to the United States.
"I hope that my daughter returns healthy and cured. Rosalia can't speak. She looks at me, she holds my hand and she cries," Pillco told the AP.
Pillco had to stay in Bolivia to care for her other six children, but Rosalia's father, Agustin Apaza, accompanied her on the flight to Boston.
The costs of Rosalia's care will be paid by the Currier family and U.S. organizations.
Tolay said she heard about Rosalia's case on Facebook and began a campaign to help the girl in the United States.
Currier said he followed the progress of Rosalia's health by Skype for a month and he promised on Thursday that the next time he returned to La Paz it would be with the girl.
"We shouldn't forget to educate our children about feelings. There is a world crisis in feelings," Tolay said.