A teenager is forced to undergo 55 corrective surgeries due to a rare condition that caused her chin to become balloons.
Hannah Dunaway, 18, was born with lymphatic malformation, which caused the growth of an enormous benign mass in her throat and face.
The birth defect occurs when lymphatic vessels, which help remove excess fluid from body tissues, do not form and clump correctly during pregnancy.
The teenager has spent her entire life in and out of the hospital while doctors have tried to treat the condition, which affects about one in four thousand per year to varying degrees.
Hannah Dunaway is forced to undergo 55 corrective surgeries due to a rare condition that caused a benign mass in her throat
Doctors were on standby in case Miss Dunaway, from Mississippi, was unable to breathe when she was born in February 2001
The birth defect occurs when lymphatic vessels – which help remove excess fluid from body tissues – clump together
The teenager (with friend Matthew), now 18, developed a crippling depression due to the struggle with living with the disorder and the unwanted attention it received from strangers
She has undergone tons reduction surgery, skin transplants, plastic surgery and several surgeries to reduce the tumor and empty the vessels.
Ms. Dunaway, from Mississippi, developed a crippling depression in her early teens due to the struggle with living with the condition and the unwanted attention it received from strangers.
She said: & I knew that my condition and facial features were not what everyone considered normal, but I never refused to do what I wanted.
& # 39; I was one of the sassiest and most outspoken little girls you have ever met. As I got older, things became mentally rougher for me.
& # 39; I developed depression and anxiety in my early teens and still struggled occasionally.
& # 39; I think one of my lowest points was my early teens, because everyone at that age is so focused on looking good and trying to belong.
Mrs. Dunaway spent her entire life in and out of the hospital while doctors tried to treat the condition, which affects about one in four thousand per year to varying degrees
She has been in and out of the hospital since the day she was born, and was forced to hunt all over the country to see different specialists
She added: “During my childhood and teens, my lymphatic malformation was much more noticeable, and I had the tracheostomy tube that gave me a lot of looks, double shots, and very rude comments.
& # 39; The saddest part was that ninety-five percent of the time it was adults who would behave improperly about it.
& # 39; Fortunately other children were usually just curious, so I explained it to them and they went along without problems. & # 39;
After years of operations and treatments, the teenager's lymphatic malformation is no longer as noticeable as before.
This has given her new confidence and she is trying to accept and cherish her uniqueness instead of being ashamed and hiding.
After years of operations and treatments, the teenager's lymphatic malformation is no longer as noticeable as before. This has given her new confidence
But she admits that she still has scars from the treatment she has received from strangers for years
Although she was born and raised in Mississippi, the teenager has had treatment in New York, Alabama, and Arkansas because not one state in particular specializes in her condition
But she admits that she still has scars from the treatment she has received from strangers for years.
She added: & # 39; I now have much more confidence than a few years ago. I finally learned what negative things people have to say with a pinch of salt.
& # 39; Now I try to use my renewed confidence to help others who feel like they used to. It took me many years to fully understand and embrace that beauty really comes from within and that my uniqueness must be nurtured and not ashamed.
& # 39; I always live by the quote, & # 39; choose kindness & # 39 ;. I want others to learn that you don't have to be uncomfortable or nervous to talk to a peer with a noticeable difference or handicap, because we want to get to know you and be treated like equals. & # 39;
When she was born at 32 weeks in February 2001, several specialists were present in case she wasn't breathing when she was delivered.
WHAT IS A LYMPHATIC MALFORMATION?
Lymphatic malformations, also called cystic hygromas, are a collection of small cysts.
The cysts are filled with a clear liquid similar to the liquid in a blister.
The cysts have no purpose and can cause problems. The walls of the cysts are quite thin and contain small blood vessels.
Cystic hygromas usually form on the neck and armpits.
They occur when the lymphatic vessels do not form correctly during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Because they occur so early in pregnancy, they cannot be prevented.
Cystic hygromas can be detected during pregnancy scans.
Most are visible during birth or early childhood and appear as painless, transparent, soft lumps.
Treatment is not always required, but may involve surgical removal or injection sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy causes an inflammatory response that causes cystic hygromas to shrink.
Cosmetic surgery can be performed at a later age to reduce scarring.
They affect up to one percent of newborns in the UK. Their US prevalence is unknown.
Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital
Doctors tried to remove as much mass as possible.
Although they removed enough to clear her airways, Mrs. Dunaway had to be passed through a tube until the age of 12, because the tumor was still blocking her digestive tract.
She said: & # 39; My mother discovered during her 18-week ultrasound that I had the lymphatic malformation.
& # 39; At her appointment, they first told her it was Down syndrome before sending her to a specialist who confirmed it was lymphatic malformation.
& # 39; They didn't know if I was going to breathe or not, so there were several specialists on standby because they didn't know exactly what to expect when I was born.
& # 39; I had the biggest lymphatic malformation they had seen in that hospital. When they were six days old, they removed as much of the malformation as they could, which gave me a fifty percent chance of survival.
& # 39; Then they performed a tracheostomy around three weeks old and I got a probe that I had until I was 12 years old. I then attended the neonatal ICU for five months. & # 39;
Mrs. Dunaway has been in and out of the hospital since her birth and has been forced to hunt throughout the country to see different specialists.
She has been treated in New York, Alabama, and Arkansas because there is not one state that specializes largely in lymphatic malformation.
She added: & # 39; I have had 55 treatments and procedures so far. I was also hospitalized several times a year to receive IV antibiotics and treatment with steroids.
& # 39; It has made my immune system very weak. I have always fallen ill very easily and until recently I was admitted to the hospital several times a year because I became ill and flared up my tumors.
& # 39; They swell, bleed and can be extremely painful. I was operated on for nine hours when I was nine to remove as much of my lymphatic malformation as possible from my face.
# It required more than 500 stitches and a skin graft from my stomach to fill the gap in my face. After that it was certainly much less prominent than before.
& # 39; Unfortunately it has grown over the years, but it is not nearly as large as before.
& # 39; I am currently preparing for a jaw operation to make my face more symmetrical and to help with the problems that the malformation caused by deforming my jaw over the years due to its aggressive growth.
& # 39; I also use medication that has significantly slowed growth and helped reduce the amount of pain that caused my malformation. & # 39;
Ms. Dunaway hopes to encourage people not to feel uncomfortable or nervous about talking to someone with a noticeable difference, because she admits she doesn't mind if people are curious, but if people are rude, it gets hurt.
She said: & # 39; I was always treated like any other child by my family, close friends and teachers. I was lucky to have the supportive and loving family that I do, because despite the pain that so many people have caused, no one could ever crush my mind. & # 39;
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