A TEENAGER who touched the hearts of Echo readers is looking forward to the future despite suffering from a rare facial deformation.
Hope Elliott is determined not to let her condition, which causes cysts to develop on her face and swelling in her throat, to stand in the way of living life like any other 16-year-old.
The Red House teenager manages to juggle studying for her forthcoming GCSEs at Oxclose School, Washington, with attending regular meetings with specialised medics at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to discuss future treatment.
Hope has already undergone up to 25 operations to alleviate swelling caused by cystic lymphovenous, but medics predict she will need more facial surgery as well as work to enlarge a tracheotomy tube which helps her breathe.
She first came to the attention of Echo readers in 2001 when we launched the Hope for Hope Trust Fund to raise £35,000 to pay for surgeon Professor Ian Jackson to fly from America to operate on Hope’s face.
Today, Hope is looking forward to taking her exams.
Speaking from her home in Runnymede Road, where she lives with mum Bernadette, she said: “I’m revising at the moment and I hope I do well in maths because I want to go on to sixth form and study to be an accountant.
“It’s not too bad having to juggle school with hospital visits, all my friends are really supportive.”
Hope’s story moved people so much more than £200,000 flooded in, including donations from pop star George Michael and EastEnders actress Wendy Richard. The appeal reached its target in just 11 days and included two anonymous donations of £10,000 each, company cheques of £2,500 and hundreds of smaller donations.
Hope said: “I am a bit scared about having surgery in the future but I’m used to it now – I’ve been having surgery since I was six months – and the team at Alder Hey are really good.”
Bernadette, 50, says she is proud of how well Hope has coped with it all.
She said: “I don’t think she pays too much attention to her condition. She doesn’t let it stop her doing what she wants to do. She just passed her bike test last week and now she’s got her own scooter.”
She added: “She looks really well at the minute and I have adopted the attitude of if she’s happy then I’m happy.”