Pretty in pink: Katie Meehan, 16, has enjoyed her first school prom after a lifetime of operations to give her a smile
Brave: Katie was born with cystic hygroma, where fluid forms a mass on the head and neck. The condition left her with a mis-shapen face and an enlarged tongue
Surgery: In 2000 Katie's left cheek and tongue were cut open during the five-hour surgery, and cysts were removed. In spring 2001 she had her second at the Portland Hospital in London, and two years later, she had a third operation
A teenage girl who was born with a severely disfigured face was the belle of the ball at her first school prom after a lifetime of operations to give her a stunning smile.
Katie Meehan, 16, was born with cystic hygroma, a condition where fluid forms a mass on the head and neck, which left her with a mis-shapen face and an enlarged tongue.
Doctors feared Katie, from Fellgate, Jarrow, would never talk and £60,000 was raised by well-wishers for a series of operations to change her life.
Katie wore a pink dress to celebrate the end of school with her friends from St Joseph’s RC Comprehensive School at a prom at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead.
Her mother, Dawn McIntyre, 49, who waved her off said: 'Katie looked absolutely beautiful, it was such a proud moment for the family and I.
'When you look back to how she was when she was a little baby, to now, the transformation is amazing. She just looked stunning. She’s come such a long way.'
Katie's condition was also life-threatening as whenever she contracted a cold or infection her face would swell to twice its normal size, potentially meaning her airways could close and she could stop breathing.
Katie had her first operation in 2000 at Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital in London carried out by Professor Ian Jackson.
Her left cheek and tongue were cut open during the five-hour surgery, and cysts were removed.
In spring 2001 she had her second at the Portland Hospital in London, and two years later, she had a third operation.
Although Professor Jackson has now retired, Katie still needs one more operation to her tongue and the lower inside of her mouth.
Dawn said: 'We’re not dashing in to it. Katie is a happy and confident girl, so there’s no rush.
'We’re going to concentrate on her education first, because this time we will be able to get surgery on the NHS, and while that’s great, we will have to start at the beginning with scans, as the NHS doesn’t have any medical records.
'We will always be grateful to the community for all of their help over the years, and we now feel like they are part of our family because so many people ask how she’s doing.'
Katie, who is waiting for her GCSE results, will be staying on at her school to start sixth form, where she will study A-levels in English language, photography, business studies, and philosophy and ethics.
She said: 'The prom was fantastic, it was great to see all my friends dressed up and looking lovely. We had a delicious three-course meal too. I couldn’t eat all of it, but I had a good go.
'I have one GCSE exam left, and then I’ll just have to wait for the results. Fingers crossed, I’ll get good ones.'
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