Health

Cassidy Hooper Born Without Eyes or Nose, Getting New Nose

| by Michael Allen
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Cassidy Hooper, a 16-year-old from Charlotte, N.C., was born with no eyes or nose. She is aiming for career in radio broadcasting, despite her physical disabilities.

According to ABCNews.com, Cassidy attends Governor Morehead School in Raleigh, N.C., a residential school for the blind. She runs on the track team and recently qualified for a scholarship to the Charlotte Curling Club.

Since age of 11, Cassidy has gone through a series of skin graft and facial reconstruction operations at Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In her three final surgeries, doctors plan to stretch skin flaps over a bone or cartilage graft from another part of her body and give her a nose.

"I'll have a real nose like everyone else's," Cassidy told ABCNews.com. "Things always may be hard. But here's what I think: I don't need easy, I just need possible."

No one knows why Cassidy was born without eyes and a nose, a rare birth defect that probably happened during the first two weeks of gestation.

"Her heart and brain are normal," said her mother, Susan Hooper. "Nothing else is going on with her."

From her birth, Cassidy's reconstructive surgeon, Dr. David Matthews, knew she would eventually have surgery, but had to wait until she stopped growing.

As a little girl, Cassidy had prosthetics for eyes, but at $5,000 each her family could not afford to replace the custom-made eyes when she outgrew them because their health insurance company would not pay.

"Insurance didn't pay one cent," said Hooper. "We had already started the process to do her nose, moving her eyes closer together and having her skull reshaped. We were not going to pay for it then have to pay again."

Hooper said once Cassidy's nose surgery was complete, they would buy her new prosthetic eyes.

Source: ABCNews.com

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