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.
Arhinia is so rare that there are only 47 cases reported in medical history, and it leaves Tessa with no sense of smell and no sinuses, although she can cough, sneeze and catch a cold.
Now, she has just undergone a pioneering operation to have a mould inserted into her face, to stretch her skin and slowly build the missing facial feature.
She js the first person to have a special cosmetic nasal implant fitted
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 parents Grainne, 31, and Nathan Evans, 33, made the tough decision for their daughter to have this new procedure to begin creating a nose while she is still a toddler. She is pictured before the operation
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.”
Tessa has two older siblings, and this made matters worse for her mother as she struggled to deal with the guilt she felt.
However, Grainne revealed that little Tessa doesn’t let her condition affect her in any way and is ‘such a little character’.
Grainne has said that ‘99% of the time our experience has been positive but you do get the pointing and the laughing.’
We wish her all the best.