Brave Charlotte Hooper, 17, is excitedly preparing for complicated surgery at the end of the month which will hopefully attach a nose to her face.
Born with no eyes and no nose, the teen from Charlotte, North Carolina, will undergo an operation on July 31st to have a bone removed from her rib cage and attached to her forehead – forming a bridge for her new nose.
Having already gone through preparatory surgery in June that has left her with a flap of skin where her nose will be, the high-school senior is even looking forward to starting her first job at the Library for the Blind in Raleigh and taking her own solo commute.
Talking to WBTV, Hooper said that she was ecstatic the final surgeries would take her ‘one step closer to getting a nose like everyone else!’
It has taken six years for doctors to get the stage where they can be in a position to create a nose for Cassidy – a process they described as laying foundations for a house.
The operation in June moved Cassidy’s eyes closer together while taking a section of her forehead bone, folding it down and also pulling enough skin downwards to create enough necessary for the bone to be implanted and create a nose at the end of the month.
Telling WBTV that the surgery has left her in some pain, a bandage-covered Cassidy said that she was looking forward to her years of surgery coming to an end.
‘I was actually thinking of what the reaction of everyone would be when that last surgery finished,’ she said. ‘And I think everyone’s going to be so excited.’
Friends of the Hooper family have recently established a website to help with Cassidy’s mounting medical bills.
Susan says insurance covers 80% of what’s ‘reasonable and customary’. The other 20% is left to the Hooper family. To get more information or help, go to www.CassidyHooper.org.
And the good news has left the energetic teen ecstatic because for the first time she will be able to smell and breathe through her own nose.
When she was born, her condition left doctors baffled, especially since had no other medical problems and leads a healthy life.
‘Her heart and brain are normal,’ said her mother, kindergarten teacher, Susan Hooper to ABC News.
‘Nothing else is going on with her.’
The inspirational teenager has been going through skin graft surgeries to adapt her face since she was 11 years old and is pleased to be entering the final straight.
‘I’ll have a real nose like everyone else’s,’ said Cassidy of her July surgery.
Born with no nose or eyes, doctors have never answered why she was born that way – but believe that she did not develop them in the first two weeks of pregnancy in her mother’s womb
Her surgeon, Dr. David Matthews has worked for the past five years expanding her face to create a bony opening.
In the past, Cassidy used prosthetic eyes, but since they cost $5,000 each, the Hooper’s could not afford to keep replacing them as their daughter grew.
‘Insurance didn’t pay one cent,’ said Susan, 42. ‘We had already started the process to do her nose, moving her eyes closer together and having her skull reshaped. We were not going to pay for it then have to pay again.’
Experts who spoke to ABC News explained how the surgery to replace Cassidy’s nose will be completed.
The surgery will take place at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte and will be overseen by Dr. David Matthews (right)
‘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 Syracuse, N.Y.
‘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.’
Cassidy’s doctors have taken a layered approach – placing the inside membrane first, then using cartilage and bone from her skull create a nose structure and then cover it with skin.
The hardest part for Cassidy has been overcoming the social difficulties.
She has been attending Governor Morehead School, a specialist school for the blind since the fifth grade and deals with taunts from children well.
‘Honestly, there’s been a bit of teasing, but not more than any other child on a regular day,’ said her mother.
Read more: Daily Mail