A toddler can smile for the first time after life-saving surgery removed a growth from her face.
Two-year-old Jouri Tari risked bleeding to death if the golf ball-sized lump on her lip was left untreated.
But now the tot, from Morocco, is finally able to lead a normal life after undergoing hundred-thousand-dollar reconstructive surgery in New York to create the perfect smile.
Jouri was born with a venous malformation – a vascular birthmark that can grow to extreme proportions.
Plastic surgeons who removed the lump discovered that it could have kept growing, potentially blocking her airways.
The growth first became visible when Jouri was just 2 months old and grew steadily for the next six months – to the horror of terrified mum, Noura Jemouni.
Noura, 32, says: ‘When she was born she was normal and then her mouth started to grow bigger and bigger.
‘There was a time where she suffered a lot. She wasn’t able to eat and she wasn’t able to drink. ‘It was hard for me and for her.’
As well as suffering physically, baby Jouri faced stares and cruel comments, to the upset of her devastated mum.
‘People don’t have any respect. They would stare at her and point,’ says Noura. ‘They don’t respect emotions of others, the feeling of others.
‘If I sent her to school without treatment she would have faced the same ignorance that I experienced from the people.’
Doctors in Morocco were unable to provide treatment and Noura began to despair. But after researching the condition on YouTube, Noura reached out to Dr Linda Rozell-Shannon, founder and president of the Vascular Birthmark Foundation, an organisation which refers sufferers to treatment specialists.
Dr Linda then went to The Little Baby Face Foundation ‐ a charity in New York founded by Doctor Thomas Romo, which specialises in facial reconstruction in children.
Within six months of appealing for help, Noura and Jouri were on a plane to America, for treatment at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital.
What Dr Milton Waner found was a venous malformation, which would have continued to grow throughout her life causing potentially fatal problems.
Dr Waner, who performed the three-and-a-half-hour surgery, says, ‘She bled very immensely during surgery so we clotted it off and carefully dissected it out.
‘Now she is moving very nicely and she will become symmetrical, so I am very happy.
‘My feeling is that every child has the right to look normal.’