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A 13 year old girl…

A 13 year old girl who had a massive lump protruding from the left side of the neck. She became reclusive and afraid to go out without friends, spending her life hiding away under a bandana in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Her family lived in a very remote part of the country and were poor sleeping on a dirt floor, and speaking only one of the over 900 languages in Papua New Guinea. However, after a number of years the word had spread deep into the highlands that children could have surgery to fix even such disfiguring problems.

The huge mass on her neck was a benign tumour that could easily be removed by doctors in the Western world familiar with the condition. However this problem was that it had never been seen by the PNG surgeons and was far different to the usual situation encountered by the visiting Australian team. The operation took around six hours. Despite the discomfort of the surgery, the girl was easily able to smile when given a mirror to see the difference in her appearance the following day, something she had not wanted to do for many years. Interestingly, despite having just had a life changing operation, she did not need much pain relief – a mirror was all she seemed to need!