This teenage girl whose rare and incurable condition caused her to rapidly age making her looks like a 60-year-old woman has been given a new face after crowdfunding helped pay her 55,000-GBP plastic surgery costs.
Sunline Plastic Surgery Hospital in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province in north-eastern China, revealed the 15-year-old’s new face in front of a stunned media crowd on 20th January.
Named only as ‘Xiao Feng’, the girl from Liaoning’s Heishan County grabbed her nation’s attention last month when she revealed her genetic disorder known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome.
Video Credit: AsiaWire / Sunline
Her progeria, which was inherited from her mother, manifests in symptoms resembling early ageing – and there is currently no known cure.
Despite her otherwise lofty ambitions, stigma brought on by Xiao Feng’s condition forced her to quit school.
She described herself as looking like a 60-year-old “grandmother”, and penned an emotional letter to Chinese philanthropist Guo Mingyi, 61, asking for help.
After several weeks of negotiations and fundraising campaigns, Sunline Plastic Surgery Hospital announced it would be performing Xiao Feng’s operations and waiving 70 percent of her 500,000 RMB (55,560 GBP) bill.
The remaining 30 percent was provided by Mr Guo’s NGO, which held a successful online fundraising campaign to make the operation possible.
After staying in the hospital for a week, Xiao Feng underwent a three-part cosmetic operation which lasted eight hours from 8:30am local time on 29th December.
A team of medics removed her wrinkles before reconstructing her nose and lips, the privately run facility reported.
Hospital director Shi Lingzhi said about the series of procedures beforehand: “We’ve done many regular wrinkle treatment surgeries, and most of the steps she will go through are the same.
“But the major difference is in her skin, which is very loose and lacks elasticity.
“We will need to transplant skin from other parts of her body to her face, such as from the outside of her thigh.”
Three weeks after her surgery, Xiao Feng and her completely changed face were revealed on stage together with her tearful parents.
The teenager, who revealed she was “nervous” about the operation because she was worried it would hurt, is now unrecognisable compared to photos of her former self.
She told local media: “Thank you to everyone who helped me. Thank you, Mr Guo, and all the hospital staff for giving me a new future.
“If angels really do exist, they are the nurses at Sunline hospital; if there really are Buddhas, they would look like Director Shi and the experts who have gifted me a new life.”
Xiao Feng’s mother, who also has progeria, said of her daughter’s condition: “This sort of psychological stress is impossible for ordinary people to understand.
“I also dreamt of being pretty one day, but I couldn’t make it come true.
“Now that my daughter has been given this chance, she’s helping me live my dream, and is also fulfilling her own dream.”
Director Shi said Xiao Feng would have follow-up treatments at the facility in order to further refine her new face.
The hospital has also said in a surprise announcement that it would help treat Xiao Feng’s mother, following a similar model by waiving a portion of her medical bills.
However, the teen’s mother has yet to reveal whether she is willing to go under the knife.
Xiao Feng said her immediate goal was to return to school in the hope of one day becoming a doctor or nurse.
Liaoning Vocational College of Medicine has said it would be supporting Xiao Feng’s education, offering her a place in one of its medical programmes.
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