A woman from Northampton is raising money so that 23 children be given the same surgery as her baby... and learn to smile.
Michelle Jay, from East Hunsbury, had her daughter Isabella in 2014 but doctors soon noticed she had a rare genetic condition that meant the left side of her body did not develop properly.
It meant that Isabella’s mouth stretched almost to her ear, making many functions difficult or impossible.
But after NHS surgeons at Addenbrooks gave her surgery at nine months old to repair the facial cleft and reconstruct her ear, she can both eat properly and grin to show her satisfaction.
Mrs Jay said: “I was so scared she wouldn’t be able to smile, but she’s got an absolutely beatiful smile.
“She’s an angel, and such a character.”
Mrs Jay felt compelled to run the London Marathon for international children’s charity Smile Train, who train and fund doctors to perform operations similar to Isabella’s in developing countries.
Some cultures consider cleft lips and palates to be the sign of a cursed child and children are sometimes shunned or even killed because of the condition.
Mrs Jay said: “It just breaks my heart to know there are other Isabellas out there suffering for want of such a simple operation.”
Mrs Jay is hoping to raise £3,500 to pay for 23 Smile Train operations.