Sue was teased as a child because of her prominent nose and chin but after a complicated facial reconstruction she now feels like a different person.
"They called me Concorde or Anteater because of my prominent nose and chin," says Sue Morgan-Elphick about the childhood playground taunts from her school friends.She was constantly teased for having a strange crescent-moon face. "I used to dye my hair outrageous colours like Annie Lennox, and wore - oh goodness - fluorescent green and blue eye shadow to distract from my peculiar-shaped face. As a child my bones just seemed to grow at different rates. My lower jaw and chin lengthened and curled up until I could 'gurn' like Les Dawson with my chin touching my nose, and I couldn't close my jaws together. But mostly I just looked miserable and sour and people always assumed I was a grumpy personality, though inside I have always been outgoing and cheerful. I avoided social gatherings and would always sit so that no one could look at me sideways. As a teenager my dentist offered me 3-4 years of braces before surgery, but I wasn't ready."
It wasn't until Sue trained as a nurse and worked in the operating theatre, with Prof Hutchison, that she began to wonder if she ever could be made to look better. "I watched him cutting and rebuilding other people's faces and it didn't bother me at all, so one day I asked if he could do anything for me. 'Yes, you do look rather abnormal, come to my clinic on Wednesday,' he said". And so it started. "I had meetings with a psychologist to make sure I understood exactly how I might feel after the surgery, and there were lots of people advising me." Sue wore rail-track braces for 10 months and had some extractions to adjust her teeth in the jaw before the operation. It was at this time that she met George on a holiday with friends, "so he saw me at my worst", who later turned into her supportive husband and saw her through the painful ordeal of surgery. In 1994 the surgical team cut her scalp and pulled back her face in a cranial peel, fractured her nose and jaws, reshaped them, inserted 6 titanium plates and screws to hold the bones in place. Sue had a 'sunken look' as her cheekbones were non-existent, so they took bone from her hips to build up some cheekbones which made a huge difference. "I wasn't scared at all! I was looking forward to appearing normal," says Sue.
Afterwards she looked as though she'd gone ten rounds with Frank Bruno and then walked into a door, and it took a whole year for all the swelling to go down. "I had step-daughters at the time, Elizabeth (9), Jennifer (7) and Cheryl (4), one of whom vomited on the bed when she saw me! Now my children don't recognise the photos of me before the surgery. My hair is now blonde and I have two more children, Emily, 8, and Thomas, 7. When Emily saw the portrait painted by Mark Gilbert of me before surgery, she said: "That woman has my Mummy's eyes." I'm thrilled with the way I look. I never used to smile, but now I grin from ear to ear.The surgeons modelled my face from photos of my family members, and people tell me I look more like my parents than ever before. I feel as though I've lived 29 years in a face that wasn't mine. It had been suggested that my face shape may have originally became distorted during a long difficult birth. Now, I'm so happy with my new face. Even my best friend walked straight past me when the bandages came off. An added bonus is that with all this metal in my face, I'm pretty good at predicting cold weather!