MIAMI (AP) — A homeless man whose face was mostly chewed off in a bizarre attack alongside a busy South Florida highway is in good spirits, talking and walking with the help of hospital staff, doctors said Tuesday.
Ronald Poppo's left eye was removed, but doctors are trying to find a way to restore vision in his right eye. He will likely remain at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center for several more weeks and will need more surgeries before he can explore the options for reconstructing his face.
Poppo, 65, is aware of the media coverage the attack has generated.
"He's pleased to report to all of you that he's feeling well, he's eating, he's walking around with physical therapy, he's talking with us," said Nicholas Namias, a University of Miami trauma surgeon and co-director of the center.
Poppo has been at the hospital since he was attacked May 26 by Rudy Eugene for reasons that are still unclear.
Emergency callers reported seeing a naked Eugene swinging from a light pole minutes before the attack. Surveillance video from the nearby Miami Herald building showed Eugene stripping Poppo and pummeling him. A witness described Eugene ripping at Poppo's face with his mouth and growling at a Miami police officer who shot and killed Eugene. Autopsy results are pending.
A close-up photograph of Poppo showed the upper two-thirds of his face covered in scabs and grafts. He's missing his nose and both eye sockets were covered, the left with gauze and the right with a flap of skin from his forehead and scalp. His gray beard was trimmed, leaving a mustache over his upper lip.
"It's hard when he smiles to see who he is," said Wrood Kassira, a University of Miami plastic surgeon at Jackson.
He also suffered two puncture wounds to his chest and a brain injury similar to what happens after a car crash, Namias said.
Poppo previously survived a gunshot wound.
Social workers will help try to help him find a place to live. He has been homeless for nearly 30 years, and he has faced multiple charges of public intoxication, among other arrests. According to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, the last time Poppo sought help finding a place to sleep was in 2004.
"If he doesn't get his vision back then it becomes, is he concerned about how he looks or is it more about how the world sees him? Those are things to think about," Kassira said.
"I've talked to him about reconstruction and he's said we'll take it one day at a time," Kassira said. "He's very logical."
Poppo has talked about swimming, which he used to enjoy, and he has requested pizza, orange juice and Italian food to eat.
He's asked for the television to be turned off in his room, except to watch Miami Heat basketball games, Namias said.
The doctor said Poppo hasn't once complained about his pain.
"He's really just sort of living in the moment and just wants to talk about routine things," he said.
A fund established by the Jackson Memorial Foundation to assist Poppo has raised $15,000. Poppo also qualifies for Medicaid and Medicare, hospital officials said.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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