Once-Disfigured Girl Attends Prom After 18 Surgeries

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Cody Hall was born with a hemangioma, a tumorous birthmark that distorted the shape of her face and grew larger as she got older.

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When she was 1-year-old, her doctors in England told her parents that nothing could be done about her condition, so her parents took her to see surgeons in the U.S.

Fourteen years and 18 reconstructive surgeries later, most of them at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, the girl who once had a hopelessly deformed face was flashing a beautiful smile at the prom.

"Cody came to me several years back after she had undergone an initial procedure in San Francisco," Hall's surgeon, Milton Waner, told FOXNews.com. "She had some really bad problems at the time. It was a very difficult situation. She had excessive scarring from an aggressive hemangioma."

Most of her 18 surgeries have been performed at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

"She had extensive tissue destruction and we performed several procedures to restore her face back to normalcy," said Waner, who is co-director of the Vascular Birthmarks Institute of New York at Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

Waner said hemangiomas are benign tumors of the stem cells. Although the tumors are not fatal, their complications can be.

"What happens is that the tumor grows very rapidly in the first few years of life and the affected stem cells lose their ability to replicate," Waner said.

The tumor leaves behind a path of destruction. In worst-case scenarios, they can cause infections and punch holes in blood vessels, causing death from heart failure or excessive bleeding, Waner said.

About 1 out of 10 people has a hemangioma, Waner said. Most do not require treatment. Of those that do, treatment can range from simple laser procedures to complex reconstructive surgeries.

Hall underwent numerous procedures at the hospital over a 14-year period, including facelifts, rhinoplasty, skin grafts, liposuction, dermabrasion, eye surgery and laser surgery. The surgeries cost more than $376,000. Much of the money was donated by people in the U.K., according to the Daily Mail.

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With the majority of her medical treatment behind her, Hall, of Corby in Northants, England, is expected to lead a normal life, Waner said. "She looks much, much better now. If you saw her walking on the street, you would never know she had had any problems."

Click here to watch the story of one girl's struggle with a hemangioma.