Saturday 20 January 2018

Teenager Cassidy Hooper born without a nose or eyes undergoes reconstructive surgery

The 17-year-old has been undergoing procedures for six years in preparation for having a nose constructed

Cassidy Cooper
Cassidy Cooper

Heather Saul

A girl who was born without eyes or a nose has begun a final series of operations and skin grafts, in the hope that doctors in America will be able to construct a nose for her.

Cassidy Hooper began a two year process involving multiple surgical procedures at the age of 14. Now, the 17-year-old is preparing for complex surgery that will see a nose attached to her face.

Cassidy has baffled doctors with her condition since her birth, particularly as she is otherwise fit and healthy.

In an interview with American news broadcasters WBTV, the teenager described her excitement at approaching the final bout of surgery, saying: "I'm going to be one step closer to having a nose, just like everyone else."

It has taken six years for doctors to prepare Cassidy's face for receiving a nose. The teenager underwent an operation in July to move the upper half of her face closer together whilst pulling skin further down from her forehead in order to gather enough to build a nose.

In her next operation, bones from her rib cage will then be implanted to provide a bridge.

Friends and family have set up a website to help provide funds for the cost of surgery. The family's medical insurance only covers 80 per cent, leaving the Hoopers to front the rest.

To create the nose, Dr David Matthews, Cassidy's surgeon of six years will use a layered approach, by starting with placing the membrane, before using cartilage and bone to construct the nose. The nose will then be covered in skin.

Speaking to ABC news, experts explained how the surgical procedure would be carried out.

"The nose is a little like the ear — what you see isn't functional," said Dr. Sherard A. Tatum III, Director of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in New York.

"A lot of people have noses they lost to trauma and cancer and breathe fine and have a sense of smell. The nose is something we expect to see in its conventional place and it's good to put glasses on, but it's not 100 percent necessary.

"The soft tissues that make up the inside and the outside skin and mucus membrane don't have a lot of strength to stick out of the face like the nose does. You can't just slap some skin up there and make it look like a nose."

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