A 20-month-old girl is to have her face and skull entirely rebuilt by doctors after being born with an extremely rare condition.
Ruby Merlyn was born via C-section at 40 weeks with a swollen body, misshapen skull, and a burst blood vessel which made it looks as if she only had one eye.
Doctors have only just discovered Ruby suffers from Fishmen syndrome, an incredible rare condition affecting only 60 births since 1970.
Her eye sockets are at different points on her head, with the left significantly higher than the right, and she has cysts on her left leg and arm bones, leaving them smaller than average and prone to breaking.
The tiny baby also has lipomas, fatty lumps of skin around her spinal cord, as well as holes in her skull and a fissure running through it.
“It looked like she’d been shot with a shotgun,” said mom Toni, “It didn’t matter to me what she looked like. As soon as I held her I fell in love. She’s beautiful.”
“I grieved briefly for the baby she could have been, but that passed quickly. I knew I was lucky to have her.”
Ruby was only allowed home for a few days before returning to hospital for specialist treatment, including having her eye removed and a false one fitted.
“But she kept taking it out and chewing it,” laughs Toni, “So I decided to give that a miss. It was a health hazard.”
Surgeons have also realigned the infant’s eye sockets, as Toni explains: “That was aesthetic. Surgeons are gradually rebuilding her.”
Despite her tough start in life, Ruby is as healthy and happy as she can be.
“She’s started to toddle, and is funny and naughty. She is registered blind, but apart from that she is fine.”
“Sadly, she has suffered some bullying. Other children have called her ugly. Well, they are the ugly ones.”
Ruby is due for more surgery later in the year that will take out parts of her skull and put it back together.
“It will be like a jigsaw,” says Toni, “They will take the orbital bone out and two pieces of bone above it, and fix them together.”
“Doctors love speaking to me about her. She is a fascinating case. But I always knew she was amazing.”