Firefighters, policemen, soldiers, doctors — these are the individuals that typically come to mind when one hears the word “hero.” But domestic abuse survivor Kariza Fernandes found her hero in dentist Dr. Steven Roth.
Fernandes met Dr. Roth under tragic circumstances. After her husband reportedly beat her severely, the once-vibrant young fashion designer thought she had lost her contagious smile for good, as the tragic incident left her with a broken jaw, a broken nose, and five missing teeth, WFOR-TV reported.
“I looked like a dead person walking, totally destroyed,” Fernandes told the local Miami station.
But despite her injuries, the young woman said she “felt alive” and “grateful right away.”
In the months of recovery that followed the attack, Fernandes underwent multiple surgeries and had to have her jaw wired shut. She could not, however, afford the cosmetic surgery that would be needed to fix her teeth.
That’s when a friend connected her with Dr. Roth, who in the past has volunteered his services to various charitable causes. For example, in 2015, the dentist donated a month of his services to help repair veterans’ smiles.
“When I heard about Kariza’s case, I’m like, I would love to do it,” Roth told the local station. “Dentistry is an interesting art, and when you have the reward of making somebody smile and making them feel good about themselves, there’s nothing better.”
Fernandes shared what it was like looking in the mirror for the first time after her surgery, an experience that rendered tears of joy.
“It was the time that I valued the mirror the most in my life, when I saw my smile back,” she said. “One smile, one tooth can change a person’s whole character, personality, feelings.”
Since that moment, Fernandes has shared her “before” and “after” photos on social media, along with video testimonials, in the hope that her story would empower other victims of domestic violence.
— CBS4 Miami (@CBSMiami) April 26, 2017
“All the women who reached out to me and sent me amazing testimonials of what happened to them, I feel like I empowered them by showing my face,” she said. “I gave them the courage to talk about it.”
As a way of paying it forward, Fernandes is donating a portion of her clothing sales to organizations that work with abuse victims.
Dr. Roth couldn’t be prouder of his patient.
“If we all had Kariza’s charisma and her inspiration the world would be a better place,” he said, “And let’s make it that way. Let’s focus on the positive. Let’s bring people forward and help each other. The world would be a lot better.”
Other Must-Read Stories: