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What a disease...
Zara Hartshorn is a Brit who lives with a strange genetic disorder. The condition, which two of Zara's seven siblings also share, was inherited from their mother. The main symptom of the disease is obvious with one glance at her face: the skin is so loose and wrinkled, people often take her for an elderly woman. How old do you think she really is? Although it's hard to believe, Zara is only 18 years old.
Things have not been easy for Zara and her family and until very recently practically nothing was known about their condition. Zara and her siblings have also suffered a lot of bullying since they were children. Kids would call her "grandma" or "monkey" because of her wrinkles and her deteriorating teeth.
It was precisely because of the relentless bullying at school that Zara became convinced she wanted to have plastic surgery. Without it, she felt she just could not cope with life, get a job or go to university. When she started looking for a surgeon, however, Zara was told that what to her was a vital surgery was considered an aesthetic procedure and her insurance would not cover it. It was heartbreaking news for Zara. Until a clinic in the U.S. heard about her case and decide to help her ... for free!
Besides changing her physical appearance to give her more self-confidence, the trip also had a second purpose: to find out more about Zara's disease and all of its implications. Zara and her family were afraid, but they also had to know the truth, however terrible it might turn out to be.
When Zara's test results came back, the doctors had bad news. Her condition was called Cutis Laxa , a very rare form of genetic mutation. The loose skin is only one of the many impacts it has on a patient's body, which can range from respiratory to cardiac problems. From one moment to the next, Zara, her mom and her siblings could have complications that range from requiring an oxygen tank to breathe, ending up in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives or worse.
Despite the tragic diagnosis, Zara was still set on getting a facelift to look more her age. After her surgery, both she and her family could barely wait to see her new face. The surgeon not only stretched the skin but also gave her a nose job.
The post-op was very painful and Zara's face was covered in bandages for a long time. But finally the day came when she could at last look at herself in the mirror. But even her doctor was amazed when he removed the last bandage from her nose. Zara looked completely different: she looked 20 years younger. The emotional teenager could not stop smiling as she stared at her new face in the mirror.
For the first time in her life Zara is happy with her appearance. The surgery has given her the confidence to face a much bigger challenge: living with a disease that can severely impact her health and even lead to a sudden death. But with a better understanding of her condition, both Zara and her family now make sure to have regular checkups and take all the necessary precautions. We hope this incredible young woman finds the strength to live as normal a life as possible and can look forward to many happy years free of bullying.
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