Zara Hartshorn, a UK teen who suffers from a rare genetic disease that makes her appear middle-aged, has undergone plastic surgery to correct a disfiguring disease that made her appear decades older, The Daily Mirror reports.
"Growing up I never thought this day would come," she told the newspaper. "I thought I would be the same for ever."
A native of Rotherham, England, the 16-year-old suffers from lipodystrophy, a genetic disease so rare only about 2,000 people suffer from it. With no known cure, lipodystrophy erases fatty tissues from beneath the skin's surface.
"People call me 'granny' and 'monkey,' " she told the New York Post in 2010. "Sometimes I'll just go into the toilet and cry."
Her condition, according to Parentdish, also afflicts her mother, Tracey Gibson, 44, and sister Jolene Hardy, 24.
Zara Hartshorn and her mother, Tracey Gibson, who also has the condition. Photo credit: ABC News
Hartshorn's plight, publicized when she was just 13, reportedly found a sympathetic ear in a U.S. plastic surgeon.
"Growing up I never thought this day would come," Hartshorn told The Mirror. " I thought I would be the same for ever. I remember the unhappy little girl who was bullied and I want to go back and tell her it will all be all right. Now when I look in the mirror I can see opportunities that weren't there before.
"There is the chance to go to college and have a better future."