'Help change my life' - 18-year-old looks for support with £30k surgery
PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 May 2019
A Weston teenager who has 'put her life on hold' for life-changing surgery hopes to 'be normal' with the help of charitable people.
Lauren Phillips has waited five years to have surgery to correct a facial deformity she has lived with since birth.
The 18-year-old, who lives in Bleadon, was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and has gone through years of speech and language therapy due to the placement of her jaw.
When she was 13 years old, she was told 'this would be the year' but is still on the waiting list.
She told the Mercury: "It was quite deflating. I have a lot pinning on this operation and changing the way I see myself because it is such a drastic thing to look at.
"I have my heart set on being normal and not noticeably different and it is disheartening being told you have to wait again."
The teen requires a rare surgery due to the gap between her upper and lower jaw being so large that the standard operation would not help.
But there are just two surgeons in the South West who can perform it - however one is set to retire and the other has suffered a bad injury and cannot operate.
Lauren said: "I wanted to do a counselling course for two years in Weston and then I would go to university to complete it.
"The longer this is postponed, the longer I have to put my life on hold.
"I can't miss six months of college so I need to wait until after I have had the surgery before I can start my studies."
As Lauren gets older, the risk of health implications could increase as she may struggle to breathe and eat without the corrective surgery.
Her sleep apnoea - where her breathing shallows and sometimes stops - could also get worse.
Lauren's colleague Caroline King at Riverside Holiday Village approached the Abrahams family, who own the park, to set up a GoFundMe page to raise £30,000 for the surgery to be done privately.
This could see Lauren have her operation in as little as six months before she can 'start her life'.
The operation will see Lauren in a frame for six months needing weekly check ups by her surgeon.
She added: "There aren't words to describe how I would feel to have this surgery.
"It would completely change my life.
"I have been waiting for more than five years and to have it done with the support of people would mean everything to me."
To donate to the cause, click here.