WARNING: This story contains some graphic images.

Cambodian teenager has been left with no face and is fighting for her life after contracting necrotising fasciitis – a.k.a. a flesh-eating bacteria – following a number of supposedly ‘routine’ dental procedures.

Soth Rey, 18, from a village near Siem Reap, visited a doctor in December last year complaining of a sinus infection. He suggested she might have a swelling in her sinus pocket and gave her an injection. A few weeks later she wasn’t getting any better, so returned to the same doctor. He decided to remove her nasal pocket, but didn’t prescribe her antibiotics.

A few weeks after that, Rey – now incredibly sick and with a fever – returned again to the same doctor, who removed a tooth. During this procedure he gave her an injection, and it was this shot, some doctors think, that might have started the necrotic process.

The above information is via Canadian expat Yulia Khouri, who came into contact with Rey nine days ago after a friend of the teenager’s posted an emergency message in a Facebook group.

“She [Rey] was perfectly healthy and had a minor sinus infection,” Khouri said in a Facebook live video. “[Now] she has been butchered by somebody who called themselves a doctor.”

When Khouri met Rey, the teenager had lost 60% of the right side of her face. “Her skin, her lips, her eyelids, her cheeks [are all affected],” said Khouri. Parts of her skull were visible.


Khouri writes that before she met Rey and her sister Borey, 20, the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the pair had been turned away from three hospitals – one of which demanded a $500 deposit before they’d even admit her, which Rey’s family could not afford.

Khouri stepped in to cover the costs, and last week Rey was rushed to hospital weighing just 38kgs. As per an updated three days ago, she weighed just 27kg.

Doctors are now trying to halt the spread of the infection.

The last update from Khouri, posted yesterday, says that Rey is still fighting for her life.

“She has been up and down,” says Khouri, confirming that it’s now Day 9 since she arrived in hospital. “I’m slightly emotional today, due to the fact that we had a team of doctors yesterday at 10pm, a wonderful team of doctors and surgeons that came to see Seth Rey and assess her facial damage that has been done from basically rotting away for three months.

“The doctors were not very optimistic about her future. Her eye is very much affected, although she can see from the eye. And what is really really really worrying is her nasal bone, which is really affected by the necrotic process. And the question that arose immediately, is how far is necrosis of the bone and whether it touched the brain or not.”

Khouri says Rey had a CT scan yesterday, and it’s basically a miracle that she’s still alive. “There’s 1–2mm between the necrotic affected nasal bone and her brain, and if somebody does do the surgery, it would be a miracle,” she said. 

Seth Rey’s family home.
She’s set up a crowdfunding page on JustGiving.com to raise money for Rey’s medical bills. At the moment, her treatment costs $350 per day (it’s not clear what currency that figure is in). If she survives, recovery is estimated at 3–5 months, and that’s before you even begin to comprehend facial reconstruction surgery.

You can follow along for updates of Rey’s condition via Facebook here.

Photo: Yulia Khouri / Facebook.