A nine-year-old girl has undergone life-changing surgery to remove a birthmark that was suffocating her.
Zoe Mitchell had her nose re-built by surgeons after the small birth mark on her nose grew quickly because of a benign haemangioma tumour.
The little girl was born with the mark when she arrived prematurely at just 27 weeks, and by the time she was two months old, it had grown so rapidly it caused her breathing problems.
Doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital fitted Zoe with a tracheotomy tube to stop her suffocating, and put her on steroids in an attempt to shrink the tumour. When this failed, the brave little girl was given a gruelling 12-month course of chemotherapy, which destroyed the tumour and much of her nose.
Surgeons have now reconstructed her nose using cartilage from her ear, leaving the youngster 'delighted'.
Her mum Caroline, 36, from Welling in Kent, said that the birthmark had resulted in Zoe receiving cruel comments and stares before she'd had her first bout of surgery to remove it at four.
"We went ahead with the operation because we wanted her to look a bit 'normal'. Going out every day and having people staring at you is not nice so we did it for her appearance," Caroline said.
"We have always been open with her about it. We told her that is her birthmark, her special nose. She got more aware of people staring as she has got older."
Caroline said that initially they had thought the mark was caused by an oxygen mask given to her because of her prematurity, but that it eventually 'took over' her whole nose, leaving her not only in danger of suffocation, but also of losing her eyesight.
"When they first said it was a birthmark I just thought it would be a little red mark. I'd never heard of them being raised tumours and had no idea they can do so much damage," Caroline told the Mail. "It was very daunting and stressful. It was constant hospital appointments in the first year so it was quite intense."
Zoe had her nose rebuilt in June, and now, two months on, is recovering well from the procedure.
"Zoe is so happy with it now. She is delighted with her new nose. It looks lovely. It is amazing," her proud mum said, while chuffed Zoe added: "I think my surgeon is very clever. I am very happy now."
David Dunaway, consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Great Ormond Street said Zoe had 'bravely coped' with her treatment for the haemangioma, and the operations to reconstruct her nose. He added she is 'due to have more surgery in the future'.
Amazing story. Such a brave and beautiful girl.