"It’s been a struggle," says 13-year-old Mackenzie. "After this operation I’ll feel better."
Mackenzie has microtia, which is when you are born with a small or absent ear. Now, he is ready for his surgery to reconstruct his ear at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
"We are very lucky that such pioneering surgery is available at GOSH says Mackenzie's mum, Louise.
In the past, Mackenzie has been bullied because of his condition and moved schools because of hurtful comments from others.
"I think living in a small place like we do there’s not many people that have seen someone with microtia so it’s difficult for people to understand," says Mackenzie's mum, Louise. "It’s been a big decision for him to make to have the surgery to change himself."
"I had enough of people making fun out of me, so I just wanted to change and feel more confident in myself," adds Mackenzie.
Thankfully, at Mackenzie's new school he plays football with his friends, who accept him for who he is.
Mackenzie and his mum went to a meeting about microtia where they met Neil Bulstrode, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at GOSH.
"We left it for a while to think about it as its quite major surgery but following a rough time at school for Mackenzie where nasty comments were made about his ear, he decided to ask and go ahead," says Louise. "So we got in touch with the doctors who then referred us to Great Ormond Street Hospital."
The reconstructive surgery involves making a new ear from a child’s own tissue. The framework or ‘scaffolding’ is made from cartilage taken from their ribcage. The reconstruction is carried out in two stages. Most children are at secondary school when this option is offered because their cartilage has matured enough for it to be used.
A helping hand from GOSH
"Great Ormond Street Hospital have been fantastic since the minute we first got the appointment with Neil Bulstrode to now," says Louise.
"They’ve kept in contact on the phone, letting us know that all the appointments are ready, providing the hotel for us so we can stay here the night before being admitted and just the friendliness of all the staff as well.
"When you come to the main entrance and you don’t know where you are, there’s two people there in yellow standing there with smiling faces and open to any questions or giving you directions. They’re absolutely outstanding."
Ready and waiting
Mackenzie and his mum travelled to GOSH from their home in Norfolk the night before to prepare for his surgery and stayed in the patient hotel that they were provided with before Mackenzie was admitted to a ward.
"We're here for a week and I'm going to miss playing with my mates on PS4 and Xbox," says Mackenzie. "I've still got mum to keep me company, so it should be alright.
"I’m feeling happier now I know what’s happening. I hope it all goes well, and I come out better."
Mum Louise has noticed a huge difference since returning home to Norfolk, she says: “Since his first operation, Mackenzie is so much more confident. He walks with his head held high and not with his hand covering his ear any more. His smile is amazing.”
Mackenzie is excited about the second part of his reconstruction: “I can’t wait to see the final results; once the second part of the operation has taken place, when the ear is unpinned and released, it will look even better!”
Visit the charity site to read about patients Emily and Luke, who also feature in episode one, and find out how the charity supports the hospital.