‘My girls should lead happy, normal lives’

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A MOTHER who was born with facial deformities, that required countless operations to correct, now faces the fact that her two daughters will undergo the same surgery.

Two-year-old Amy and nine-week-old Laura have inherited Treacher-Collins Syndrome, which affects their hearing and facial characteristics.

Mum Rebecca Cornell wants more to be known about the congenital disorder, so rare it is only found in one in 10,000 people.

She and husband Mark, who live in Rickinghall, turned to science for help with starting a family and went through three lots of IVF in attempts to screen embryos for the condition.

Eventually, the couple made the difficult decision to let nature take its course, knowing that by conceiving naturally there was a 50 per cent chance of passing it on to their baby.

“There’s no right or wrong for anybody, nobody can decide for you,” said Rebecca. “I love these two to bits and I wouldn’t change them for the world, but I also wish they didn’t have it because I don’t want them going through surgery.”

As Amy bounces around the room it is easy to overlook that she has Treacher-Collins but, once she puts on her hearing aid headband and moves her hair, she reveals malformed ears, typical of the condition.

A closer look reveals downward slanting eyes and a small lower jaw, features that her younger sister also exhibits.

Up until the age of 21, Rebecca, now 33, endured surgery to improve her hearing and facial deformities, including hearing aid and cheek bone implants.

“There are still times when I wonder, have I been selfish because I wanted a baby – I worry that they’ll blame me,” said Rebecca, whose parents do not have Treacher-Collins.

“My girls should lead happy, normal lives and I’ll make sure that they do – they’ll know that their daddy loves me, so they’ll know there’s someone out there who’ll love them for who they are,” she added.