Colombian teen travels to Miami to undergo surgery to fix debilitating facial deformity

17-year-old Michael Herreno said all he wants is a normal life.

Whenever he begins to explain what it's like to look at himself in the mirror, he breaks down into tears. And because of his appearance, no matter how hard he tries, he doesn't have the courage to approach the girl he likes.

But after leaving his home in Columbia, Herreno has arrived in Miami to let doctors not only change his life -- but try to save it -- with an $80,000 surgery.

A mass of tangled veins between his nose and forehead puts his life in danger. His eye sight is already compromised, and he says he can feel his nostrils starting to close up.

"In Colombia the doctors gave up on him," said Maria Luisa Chea, director of the International Kids Fund. "There was nothing more they could do for him.

The doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami are ready to take on the extremely delicate case. But they say there is a risk that Herreno could go blind from the procedure.

Herreno, and his mother who has come along with him for the journey, say they are willing to take accept whatever risks come with the operation.

"My son is an excellent person, very loving and caring," said Herreno's mother. "Above all, he is special to me. I want to see his face normal."

Herreno first noticed his nose start to swell 14 years ago. He thought it was a mosquito bite, but that morphed into a deadly deformity.

The doctors say they will help save his life, but can't promise perfection.

"I'm not sure we will ever get him exactly normal," said Dr. Seth Thaller of the University of Miami Health System. "We should be able to improve him but as far as getting him a normal nose, that will be a challenging endeavor."

Doctors say the kind of growth Michael has only happens in one out of every 100-thousand people.  

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