Tessa Evans: Transformative surgery for County Derry baby born without a nose

Grainne and Tessa Evans
Image caption Tessa has no sense of smell and her taste is limited

The parents of a County Londonderry toddler who was born without a nose or nasal cavities have said that ground-breaking surgery will transform her life.

Two-year-old Tessa Evans from Maghera was born with an extremely rare medical condition called congenital arhinia. It means she has no sense of smell or sinus cavities.

Tessa has undergone the first operation in a new procedure which uses a 3D printer to build an implant to fit under her skin.

A medical tattoo artist will also tattoo on the nostrils and nose contours.

Tessa's face has already changed quite dramatically since her birth. The small implant has given her a nasal bump and raised the area between the eyes. The surgery will be repeated every two years.

Tessa's mother Grainne described how in the moments after her birth it had been difficult to come to terms with her condition.

"Shock was the absolute biggest emotion at the time - then heartbreak.

"She was tube-fed in the hospital because she had her tracheostomy tube sticking out from her neck and she was so tiny."

Tessa's father Nathan said they've had to learn about her condition as they go.

"She doesn't have sinuses, a nasal cavity. There's nothing there, it's all gone.

"It was funny the very first time she sneezed but we actually found out that it actually comes from your chest.

"However having that wee bit of normality was quite nice."

'Dangerous'

Having no sense of smell does come with its own dangers.

"She can't smell if something is dangerous, if something was burning or if food is very rotten," Grainne said.

"Another child would automatically lift that up and know not to put it in their mouth whereas with Tessa doesn't have that same early warning system."

The surgery on Tessa's face will not be completed until her teenage years, but Grainne explained how she and Nathan believe it was a "no brainer".

"They say once they have the final, nuanced nose in place that they will then get a medical tattoo artist to tattoo in light and shade to make the more detailed contours of her nose.

"They can then dimple in the nostrils and shade them to look real."

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