They look like a perfect family. But look closer and the nightmare will reveal itself.

The power of positivity

When Zak Jacob Coates was born in Cyprus in 2006, his mother knew that his face would be disfigured. But when she finally saw her son, born 14 weeks early, she realized the severity of his condition.

Zak was born with a rare form of cleft lip and palate, known as  Tessier Type 4. He suffered cerebral bleeding and heart problems, and was blind in his right eye. He also had no cheekbones in the right side of his face, no nostrils, no lips, and no bottom eyelid. His mother Joanne was told her son would need numerous operations in order to lead a normal life.

Weighing in at  just two pounds, doctors didn’t know if Zak would survive his first days at the hospital. But after two weeks, he was strong enough to go home.

Zak would undergo several operations  over the next years, but one thing was clear from the start: this little boy was a fighter!

As time passed, it became clear that Zac’s best weapon was his cheerful and positive attitude. He has naturally had to deal with bullying along the way, at one point even being branded “monster.”  But Zac’s mother is incredibly proud of the way her son has learned to cope: “He often gets points and stares but it doesn’t bother him,” Joanne said. “He’ll just walk over and say, ‘I have a cleft lip and I’m blind in one eye, why are you looking at me?'”

Today, Zak is  10 years old. Surpassing the doctor’s expectations, he can eat, speak and drink completely on his own, and has big dreams for the future.

Zac’s medical staff has worked tirelessly over the years, but his mother Joanne is certain that Zac’s humor, confidence, and positivity have played a huge role in his progress: ”I hope others who read his story can gain strength from his confidence and don’t allow any cruel comments to hold them back.”




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