The gift of my new face


WHEN Maurice Simpson looks in the mirror, he smiles and says, “I’m probably the best looking man in the world.”

He’s always said it, even when his tumours became so large that he could hardly fit his motorbike helmet over his face, and even if he didn’t always believe it.

Born with a rare condition that gave him huge facial tumours, Maurice (34) recently had surgery to remove them – and it turns out the operation didn’t only give him a new face but also saved his life. His story is now the subject of a documentary, A Brand New Face, which aired on TV in the US this month.

Maurice was born with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes nerve tissue to grow into tumours. His mom first noticed it when he was six weeks old and his eye was slightly puffy. By the time he was six years old, the fleshy lumps had grown so large they obscured his eye.

Even after seven painful operations, the tumours continued to grow, but Maurice didn’t let the stares or cruel comments get him down.

“My parents always taught me to be happy with who I am,” says Maurice, from Ogden, Utah, in the US. “At the age of fifteen I got tired of all the operations and decided to just get on with living.”

And live he did. Maurice became a basketball coach, pursued a career and was soon a popular figure in his local community.

He also fell in love with Tara Williams, and the couple had two children – Shayla (13) and Christopher Rashawn (11). The relationship didn’t work out and the kids stayed with Maurice.

Then, in 2000, he met the love of his life, Charity. Maurice already had severe facial tumours but that didn’t stop Charity falling head over heels in love with him.

“The first time I saw him I was a little shocked, of course” says Charity (30), a supervisor at a supermarket. “But Maurice was so confident and flirtatious; he really shone. I thought he was very attractive.

He’s so funny and charming, everybody wants to be near him.” Maurice and Charity married in 2002 and went on to have three more children – Maurice Jr (6), Jaylen (3), and Andre (5 months).

He was happy with his life and felt so healthy he rarely went to the doctor. “I thought I was just fine the way I was. My wife and kids loved me. What more could a man want?”

But the tumours continued to grow. “My face was getting so big I could hardly fit my motorbike helmet on,” he says.

“It was like in the TV show Turner and Hooch, when the dog shakes his head and all the saggy skin droops and shakes.” Then in January 2010 an anonymous local businessman offered to pay for Maurice to have surgery.

Read the full article in DRUM of 28 October 2010

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