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.  
Facebook/JoanneLythgoe
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.
Facebook/JoanneLythgoe
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. 
Jolythgoe
Zak would undergo several operations over the next years, but one thing was clear from the start: this little boy was a fighter! 
Twitter/CyprusSunMed
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?'"
Facebook/JoanneLythgoe
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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