A teenager whose giant facial tumour caused his mother to disown him has had surgery and has been reunited with his family.
Kambou Sie travelled from his hometown of Bondoukou in the Ivory Coast to Italy for life-changing treatment to tackle the tumour engulfing his whole face.
Stunning before and after pictures show the 18-year-old’s transformation after surgeons reconstructed his face.
The 18-year-old, known as Prosper, was 10 years old when the aggressive mass first started to appear on his cheek.
It was left untreated and over the years it began to completely swamp his facial features, affecting his eyesight and his whole face to droop.
Before and after: Kambou Sie, from the Ivory Coast, is barely recognisable after his life-changing surgery was successfully performed in Italy
Growing up, he was often ignored or avoided by his community because nobody understood his condition and thought he was contagious.
The only person who supported him was his father, as he was even disowned by his own mother.
After arriving at Naples Pascale Hospital in Italy 14 months ago, tests revealed that the tumour was a rare form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which attacks the immune system.
He underwent six months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem cell replacement to reduce the tumour.
Prosper said: ‘When I arrived here, often I was afraid. I think that fear was all I felt. My nose used to block my sight. I had to hold my nose down to be able to see.
‘Three days after I began chemo I realised I didn’t need to hold my nose down anymore to see.
‘I am very happy because when I go out I don’t cry. I am happy to meet people. I go out, I have fun, I play around. I have no problems. I am very happy.’
Now the cancer has been eradicated, surgeons are working to reconstruct his face.
Decade struggle: He was 10 years-old when aggressive mass first appeared on his cheek
Afflicted: By the time he was 18 the tumour began to completely swamp his facial features, affecting his eyesight and his whole face to droop
Post-surgical: Prosper having his bandages removed after surgery to reconstruct his face
Extensive treatment: He underwent six months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem cell replacement to reduce the tumour
Specialist Dr Franc Ionna explained: ‘There’s a flaw in the development of the facial bones. He has an alteration of the facial bone.
‘There’s a dissymmetry the left side is different to the right. One side has too much bone on the other is a deficit.’
It will take several surgeries, as the cancer has affected the bone structure of Prosper’s skull.
The right side of Prosper’s face has an underdeveloped cheek bone and eye socket, which will need to be rebuilt.
But Prosper’s bones are still recovering from the impact of radiotherapy, so Dr Ionna will first work on the lower half of his face.
The surgeon spent three hours removing the cancer-damaged skin and releasing scar tissue hardened by the radiotherapy.
He said: ‘I had an endless series of difficulties due to him having gone through radiotherapy the tissues were very stiff just like a wall.’
But the surgery goes well and Proser’s face is starting to take shape.
Reunited: Kambou Sie reunited with his mother after a long period of estrangement
His only long-standing supporter: Kambou pictured with his father, who never abandoned him
Dramatic difference: Prosper looking in the mirror after surgery to reconstruct his face
Home: Kambou pictured with friends and family his hometown of Bondoukou, Ivory Coast
WHAT IS BURKITT LYMPHOMA?
Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that affects children and adults. BL develops when the body makes abnormal B-cells – the lymphoma cells. B-cells are white blood cells that fight infection.
BL may cause a lump in the tummy area, which can cause pain, swelling, nausea and diarrhoea. It can also cause painless swellings in the neck, armpit or groin.
Other symptoms may include: night sweats, high temperatures, weight loss and tiredness.
Three weeks after his surgery, Prosper returned to his home in the Ivory Coast, where his community rejected him. He is welcomed by his father’s open arms and his mother’s quest for reconciliation.
Prosper will return to Italy in the future for more surgeries, but for now he his enjoying being part of the community again.
He said: ‘My face has changed. It’s not finished, but it’s changed. I have also changed. I am not like before.
‘Before leaving, I couldn’t see a thing. It’s my country, but today as I arrive I’m new to it. I now have eyes to see it all. I don’t know what to expect. How the welcome will be. I don’t know if the welcome will be good or not. We’re arriving, it’s here.
‘After the new year, I’ll go to school to study and find out what I want to do in the future.’
Prosper’s story is featured on Body Bizarre. Body Bizarre is on Saturdays at 10pm on TLC UK