Sixteen years ago, Susan Hooper gave birth to a healthy baby girl — a baby girl who was missing her eyes and nose. Now, that baby girl has grown into an ambitious and optimistic teenager, who will soon receive a new nose and eyes thanks to facial reconstruction surgery.
Cassidy Hooper, 16, is undergoing a series of surgeries to rebuild her face and give her the nose that she never had. Doctors will take bone and cartilage from Cassidy’s head and use it to build the teenager a new nose. Hooper toldABC Newsthat doctors were baffled by her condition at birth. Her missing nose and eyes are a rare and random birth defect that likely occurred during the first two weeks of gestation.
“Her heart and brain are normal,” Susan Hooper said. “Nothing else is going on with her.”
The teenager has not let her birth defect stop her. She runs track at her high school — The Governor Morehead School in Raleigh, N.C., a residential K-12 school for the blind — and dreams of hosting radio shows. In fact, she’s already hosted a radio program on a local station.
“Things always may be hard,” the teenager reported. “But here’s what I think: I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”
According to local news, Cassidy protested against the closure of one of three schools that serve the blind and deaf in North Carolina. She appeared publicly at the hearing; her school was spared.
The optimistic and ambitious teen is excited to get her new nose. It has been a long time coming. For the last five years, Dr. David Matthews of the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., has been performing facial reconstruction surgeries to expand the teen’s face in order to prepare it for the skin grafting that will giver her a functional nose. For the last five years her doctor, Dr. David Matthews, at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, has been performing surgeries to expand her face in order to prepare the teenager for the grafting of skin that will give her a functional nose.
“The nose is a little like the ear — what you see isn’t functional,” Dr. Sherard A. Tatum III, director of facial and reconstructive surgery at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., stated.
“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.”
After the completion of her new nose, she will receive prosthetic eyes.
[Image via Shutterstock]