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Australian Surgeons Operate On Woman With Huge Tumours Covering Her Face

Australian Surgeons Operate On Woman With Huge Tumours Covering Her Face

A woman who suffered from huge facial tumours has said she is 'so happy' after undergoing seven hours of surgery.

A group of Australian surgeons and volunteers banded together to perform life-changing surgery on 26-year-old Natalia Apaseray, who was suffering from a rare condition known as neurofibromatosis.

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Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook
Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook

This disorder causes benign tumours to grow on the skin, spinal cord and nerves - and left Natalia, from West Papua in Indonesia, struggling to drink and eat.

The condition is often treated at birth, but for Natalia this wasn't the case, as she didn't have access to medical care.

As a result, the woman was ostracised by her local community and subjected to cruel treatment due to her facial deformities.

Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook
Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook
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One of the plastic surgeons who performed the op, Michael Kernohan, told SBS news: "She was found by one of the missionary workers in her country in a bin with local kids throwing rocks at it."

According to the Daily Mail, one of those who found her got in touch Peter Gray of the non-profit Rotary Club of Phnom Penh, asking for help and saying: "No one deserves to live like this."

Immediately, the former president of the club joined forces with members from Rotary clubs in Sydney, Bendigo and his own to raise over $27,000 to fly Natalia to Australia for treatment.

Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook
Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook

But this was no simple procedure. Alongside cardiothoracic surgeon Bruce French, Kernohan started to plan for the complicated surgery 18 months in advance of the patient's arrival.

"Rotary flew Natalia to Australia late in 2018 for an intensive week of medical appointments and scans before she returned again in May as a humanitarian patient," explained Kernohan.

A team of specialists including plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, ear nose and throat surgeons, psychologists, anaesthetists, radiologists and nursing staff worked together on her initial surgery in May.

Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook
Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook

This was followed by major facial reconstruction surgery in June of this year, which took roughly seven hours.

"There are countless people who offered their time to be part of something that had never been done in a NSW hospital," added Kernohan.

"Natalia has been so brave throughout this unfamiliar journey and has not complained once."

Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook
Credit: The Natalia Project/Facebook

Natalia has since expressed her gratitude towards the Rotary clubs and Liverpool Hospital staff for their life-changing help.

"I felt a lot of shame growing up in Jayapura because of my face," she told news.com.au.

"I am so happy to be going back to see my community. I no longer feel the need to hide my face. There is no way I can pay everyone back for how they have helped."

Topics: indonesia, Surgery, Australia, Donation, woman

Daisy Phillipson

Daisy is a UK-based freelance journalist with too many opinions. She loves everything film and music-related and has a track record writing for Little White Lies, BWRC, and Film Daily. Contact her at [email protected]

 

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