James Weatherwax, an 11 year old boy from Alaska with a rare genetic mutation that interfered with the development of his face, has a chance to not feel embarrassed about his appearance.
The condition, called Apert syndrome, not only affects the boy’s physical appearance but constricts his breathing and has been known to seriously harm the growth and development of the brain. Richard Hopper, head of the craniofacial surgery centre at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is hoping that a radical new procedure can help young Weatherwax to live a more normal life.
“If you show them a picture of a foot, they’ll say, ‘That’s a foot.’ But if you show them a picture of their face, they’ll say, ‘that’s me.' ” Hopper said.
Child and developmental psychologists are also hopeful that these new forms of facial surgery can help impaired children grow into more adjusted adults. Physical stigmas experienced early on can have grave consequences for disabled children as they mature.