A Chinese teenager who was bullied for having a rare, genetic condition underwent a stunning transformation following plastic surgery last month, according to the Daily Mail.
The 15-year-old girl, who goes by the pseudonym Xiao Feng, reportedly came from a low-income family that lived in the Heishan county of Jinzhou in northeastern China. She suffered from progeria or Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, a condition that causes a child’s body to age more quickly than usual. The condition is incredibly rare — just 1 in 4 million newborns worldwide are affected with it, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Xiao Feng, whose mother allegedly suffers from the same condition, was regularly bullied for her appearance, multiple reports note.
“When she was in her primary school, she was often mistaken for ‘the parents of pupils,’ and whenever she went to the town with her mother, people would surround them, look at them and discuss about them,” her father Wang Hongde told Xinhua News Agency.
The bullying purportedly got so bad that Xiao Feng chose to pause her studies after graduating from middle school, the Mail reported.
“I am 15 years old, but I have a face of a 60-year-old,” she allegedly wrote in a plea to Guo Mingyi, a philanthropist and deputy chairman of All-China Federation of Trade Unions. “How I long to look like a high school student.”
“Uncle Guo, how do I wish to return to a normal life and not feel the need to avoid other people’s attention or feel haunted by my classmates’ whispers,” the letter continued.
Upon receiving the letter, Guo arranged for Xiao Feng to receive treatment at Shenyang Sunline Plastic Surgery Hospital. He also organized a citywide charity event — in which the teenager and her family visited companies and took to the streets to collect donations — along with a charity marathon that featured more than 1,000 runners. His efforts raised nearly $26,000 altogether, the paper reports.
On Dec. 26, 2019, 10 surgeons, three anesthesiologists and five nurses at Sunline worked together to remove excess skin — a total of 7 centimeters — from Xiao Feng. Doctors also reshaped her nose, eyebrows and mouth. Though the hospital initially offered to give a 70 percent discount on the surgery, it eventually cancelled all of the teenager’s medical bills because management wanted her to instead use the funds for her studies, according to the Mail.
On Jan. 20, Xiao Feng, who had not been allowed to look in a mirror since her operation, unveiled her new appearance to the public at a press conference in Shenyang. The Mail reports that she was seen crying and hugging her parents at the event upon seeing her new self.
“Today is the happiest day for my daughter,” her father said.
“The night after Xiao Feng’s surgery was the night when I slept the soundest because I believed that doctors could cure my daughter’s condition and help her live and study happily in the future,” he continued.
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