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A nursery nurse is unable to recognise her own face or those of her friends and family.
Hannah Read, from Ringwood, Hampshire, has a condition called 'face blindness', which means she sees everyone as just 'two eyes, a nose, and a mouth'.
The condition was brought about after she suffered from a case of encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which had been triggered by the cold sore virus, when she was just eight years old.
In 2012, a specialist told the 22-year-old that she had the worst case of the condition, for which there is no known cure, in the UK.
During an interview on Channel 4's Steph's Packed Lunch, Hannah said: "Face blindness means that everyone looks the same.
"I see exactly what everyone else sees, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, but just those features look the same on everyone's face."
And when asked whether she was able to pick people out in the studio, Hannah said only by certain characteristics, such as facial hair.
She explained: "I can tell, like, the different facial features, so if someone has a beard, I can see that, but the rest of the features all look the same to me."
Hannah said even though she didn't have the cold sore virus, it had somehow got into her system as a child and caused her brain to swell.
Her condition quickly deteriorated and she was taken into hospital and placed on an intensive care unit.
Looking back at when she started to notice she wasn't able to tell people apart anymore, Hannah said she realised something was wrong after a conversation with her grandparents.
"It wasn't really me that noticed it," she said. "It was when I got off the air ambulance from when I flew back into Southampton Hospital from Grand Canaria that my grandparents were waiting there and we were talking to them.
Hannah Read suffers with prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness. She can't recognise her family, friends or even herself.
She explains to @StephLunch how it began, when she was just 8 years old. #PackedLunchC4 pic.twitter.com/CG4uvTaH6M
- Steph's Packed Lunch (@PackedLunchC4) February 16, 2021
"When they left, my mum said I just said to her, 'Well, who was that we were just talking to for 20 minutes?'
"And she was, like, 'Well, it was granddad', and I was, like, 'Well, I don't know'.
"Then, when we got home, we realised that nothing was familiar to me anymore, and when friends came to visit me, I couldn't recognise them."
Hannah said she has learnt to live with her condition over the years.
For example, she gets the children at work to wear name badges and memorises her colleagues' favourite clothes.
She said: "When I go out by myself, I always go to familiar places so that, maybe, when I need the toilet, I know where the toilets are, because when toilets are just pictures of a man and a lady, I can't see the pictures and just pray that it says 'male' and 'female, otherwise I wouldn't know where to go."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS
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