A 3 year old Russian girl has been cruelly disowned by most of her family for being born with just half a face. Darina Shpengler, who lives in Siberia, has no lips or chin and her face is covered in blood due to the unknown medical condition. The prejudice against the toddler has been so severe that her parents have been forced to move to avoid some family and so-called friends. But Elena and Yury, from the Krasnoyarsk region, refuse to hide their daughter away while surgeons attempt to rebuild her face. Relatives have even informed police that the loving couple had purposely damaged Darina’s mouth themselves, forcing the pair to explain themselves.
Mrs Shpengler told The Siberian Times: ‘Darina does not have lips. Her mouth is constantly open and all the time in blood. ‘Only my sister supported me, all other relatives just stopped any communication with us. My brothers, their children, my husband’s mother – nobody wanted to accept Darina. We do not hide Darina from people. We take her everywhere with us.
‘My husband Yury does not feel ashamed either. He takes Darina everywhere. People told us to put a mask on her but he replied: “If you don’t want, don’t look at her – but we accept her the way she is”.’ Mrs Shpengler has since rejected advice from medics to quietly give up her child who would then disappear into Russia’s grim orphanage system.
Darina has also been denied access to join a local kindergarten because other children ‘would be scared’, her parents claim. Instead, social services send two teachers to visit Darina, who loves to sing, once a week to give her basic education. Mrs Shpengler added: ‘She is such a sociable girl. We have bought lots of toys for her but nothing can replace friends.
‘Our surgeons were shocked to hear all this. Of course, it will be sorted very soon but we are so nervous. And we need all our powers to help Darina. We need to raise and support her, she has a lot to overcome.’ Elena admitted that when Darina was born early – after seven months – she was so shocked that she ‘lost consciousness’. She soon realized something was wrong after her daughter was born when the doctors began to worry and started calling somewhere.
Darina was wrapped completely, preventing her parents from getting a glimpse of their daughter. Hours later, Mrs Shpengler begged nurses to let her see her daughter, but was asked if she was ‘ready to see it’. When she saw Darina’s wide open mouth and ‘fell into darkness’. She was taken to intensive care where doctors suggested she left the baby in hospital, but she refused. Mr Shpengler was recovering from a car crash in another hospital at the time of Darina’s birth.
But when he finally got chance to meet his daughter, who suffers from a ‘serious genetic failure with eight mutations in her body, his love was unquestionable. He told his wife: ‘She is ours, our girl. The truth is this trouble has only brought us together.’ As Darina has developed, doctors have failed to support her, Mrs Shpengler claimed.
The couple have since raised funds to pay for medical treatment in Moscow where they have been told she will face major surgery every two years. Darina is believed to be recovering well after the first successful surgery where her mouth was sewed to make it smaller. Now they plan to make lips for her and to grow bones and muscles for her chin, Mrs Shpengler says. Orest Topolnitsky, an oral surgeon who was involved in an operation to repair Darina’s face, condemned the heartless attitudes.
He said: ‘This girl is now in our hospital. It is a very rare case. Many charity funds refused to help saying that she would die soon anyway. We took a risk and operated her as a part of the free government insurance. But the girl needs more surgeries. We have done the first and the most difficult one. It was risky because the child is very small, any bleeding is a threat for her. We know that this family has problems with relatives who have not loved this girl from the very beginning. Some people have no hearts, it is so shocking.’