My new face

Sur­geons bat­tle to save the life of 22-year-old Zi­nash who has a ter­ri­ble tu­mour…

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When Zi­nash Ali was born, her fam­ily was over­joyed to wel­come such a beau­ti­ful young girl to their fam­ily, yet they soon re­alised there was some­thing ter­ri­bly wrong with their beloved daugh­ter.

A tu­mour started to grow in Zi­nash’s lower gum when she was a child and, over the years, it be­came so large that it burst out of her mouth, de­stroyed her jaw­bone and has left her fight­ing for her life.

Hav­ing tried every­thing to help Zi­nash, now 22, her fa­ther sold his only ox to pay for her to travel 500 miles to Ethiopia’s cap­i­tal, Ad­dis Ababa, to meet vol­un­teer sur­geons. But can they save her?

Com­plex surgery

‘It’s the big­gest be­nign tu­mour I’ve ever seen,’ says max­illo­fa­cial sur­geon, Kelvin Mizen. ‘It’s caus­ing her prob­lems eat­ing and be­fore long it will crush her wind­pipe. It’s a very com­pli­cated op­er­a­tion and there’s a chance that she might not make it.’

De­spite the risks, Zi­nash de­cides to go ahead with the op­er­a­tion and she’s just one of the pa­tients treated by sur­geons from Fac­ing Africa, a char­ity that trav­els to the poor­est parts of Africa to per­form fa­cial re­con­struc­tive surg­eries.

Dur­ing Zi­nash’s 13-hour op­er­a­tion, sur­geons want to re­move the tu­mour and use a bone from her leg to re­con­struct her jaw.

When she comes round af­ter the surgery, Zi­nash’s fam­ily are de­lighted to see her smil­ing for the first time in years.

‘I thought this tu­mour was go­ing to kill me,’ says Zi­nash. ‘Now I am look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture.’

Smil­ing... Zi­nash with her fa­ther. In­set: Zi­nash af­ter surgery

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