A 9-year-old boy got to celebrate an extra-special birthday after having a life-changing facial reconstruction surgery.
Simao Meco was born with a rare defect, known as craniofacial cleft, and the condition caused him to lose sight in his right eye and have trouble breathing. His mom said he was constantly bullied.
"It was heartbreaking,” mom Lisa told InsideEdition.com.
Pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. James Bradley heard about Simao’s story and decided he would offer to perform surgery at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York for free. Bradley is one of five doctors in the world who know how to perform facial bipartition surgery, which realigns the face.
"The first time I looked in the mirror, I looked good,” Simao said after the operation.
With his newfound self-confidence, Simao went back to school and was welcomed with open arms.
His family hopes that his story will inspire people to treat others nicely, no matter how they look.
"Just because they're different, they shouldn't be treated different,” Lisa said.