A SIX-YEAR-OLD girl who was born with only half a face is now able to smile for the first time after an 11-hour pioneering operation was successful.
Brave Darina Shpengler has now returned to Russia to be reunited with her dad after her long surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Brave Darina is now able to smile for the first time after an 11-hour pioneering operation[/caption]
Darina pictured with her parents, mum Elena and dad Yury[/caption]
Little Darina’s three-month treatment in the UK is the first in a series of operations to come, which will give her the complete face she never had.
Proud mum Elena, 47, cried tears of happiness, saying: “She has learnt to laugh.”
‘LEARNT TO LAUGH’
Her dad Yury 49, hugged the six-year-old for the first time since June, and can be heard saying: “You are so beautiful.”
Darina’s condition is a rare one, as she was born with no lips or chin, making other children “scared of her”.
Her condition limited her ability to eat and speak, which led to some of her family members to disown her.
Little Darina’s weight is similar to a one-year-old, despite being six.
Russian doctors recommended that the only hospital in the world for Darina’s complex surgery was Great Ormond Street and the operation – initially costing £67,400 – was paid for by generous donors in a fundraiser in her homeland.
In a video, Professor David Dunaway and Dr Nadeem Saeed are seen moments after completing the marathon surgery.
Prof Dunaway of the hospital’s Craniofacial Unit, said: “We have just finished Darina’s operation.
“It’s been a very long day, I think we have been operating for almost 11 hours… I think we are very happy with the way things have gone.
“We made Darina a nice little jaw, it’s in a good position, and we introduced some more skin into her neck.”
After the operation, emotional Elena said: “Darina spent three months with normal people.
“She has received an enormous amount of love from them, from all these people surrounded us these months and who took care of us.
“They didn’t speak a word in Russian but came just to give a hug and their support.
“This had changed our daughter completely – and she learned to laugh.”
I want people to stop pointing fingers at her so she doesn’t feel unhappy
Since Darina has been back in her hometown of Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region, fundraising for her next operation at Great Ormond Street is already underway.
The next surgery will see doctors construct her upper jaw and lip.
Elena said: “I want people to stop pointing fingers at her so she doesn’t feel unhappy.”
Initially it was thought Darina suffered from debilitating Nager syndrome but her genetic tests show that her condition is unique and caused by “spontaneous mutations”, reported The Siberian Times.
After Darina’s birth, Elena said the medical staff initially refused to show her the child.
She recalled: “I begged them to to show me my daughter.
“The nurse looked at me and asked – ‘Are you ready to see it? She is in an incubator.”
“I went close and looked – and saw this wide open mouth. I fell into darkness – and lost consciousness.”
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She added: “I was taken to intensive care where the doctors suggested I leave the baby in the hospital. But I strongly refused.”
However when Yury saw Darina, his face did not change, Elena said.
He told his wife: “She is ours, our girl.”
Darina was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital[/caption]
Initially it was thought Darina suffered from debilitating Nager syndrome but her genetic tests show that her condition is unique and caused by ‘spontaneous mutations’[/caption]