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May 22, 2013

Face-chewing victim recovering, playing guitar

(Continued)

A facial transplant wouldn’t be necessary, since Poppo didn’t lose any functions other than his vision.

“To put him through a lifetime of immunosuppression is not something he nor us think is in his best interest,” Kassira said.

A Miami police officer shot and killed Poppo’s attacker, Rudy Eugene. It’s still not clear what provoked Eugene. Callers reported seeing a naked Eugene swinging from a light pole minutes before the attack. Lab tests found only marijuana in his system.

Ruth Charles, Eugene’s mother, declined comment.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t feel like going back to this thing again,” she said. “I’m just trying to recover from what happened.”

Poppo doesn’t blame Eugene for what happened, said Adolfa Sigue, nurse manager at the Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Center, where he lives.

“The only thing that he always tells me is that, ‘I’m sure that that man had a bad day that day,’” Sigue said.

Poppo, 66, still requires daily medical care for his wounds, and he’s working with occupational therapists and specialists from the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind to learn how to adjust to his blindness. He can dress himself and is learning again to play the guitar, an instrument he had not picked up for 40 years.

He’s gained 50 pounds, and though his caretakers would like to see him exercise more, he so far refuses to leave the facility unless he’s going to the hospital to see his doctors, said Patricia Copalko, a certified nursing assistant at the medical center.

He also hasn’t allowed any visitors to see him, other than his doctors, nurses and therapists. Sigue said Poppo doesn’t answer the telephone in his room and hasn’t wanted to talk with relatives other than a sister, who calls the nurse’s cellphone to get through.

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