"We didn't recognise her!": Girl, 11, undergoes incredible facial surgery

Christie Cooper

An 11-year-old girl who was born with part of her face missing has undergone an incredible transformation thanks to surgeons at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

Zoe Allen now dreams of becoming a doctor to help others like her, after her face was carefully hand crafted by her medical team.

Zoe discuss the incredible steps that led to her transformation. Photo: 7 News

“They pulled the tendon out of my wrist and made it into an eyelid,” Zoe said.

She developed in the womb with severe clefting and was missing part of her face when she was born.

But after seven major operations, the bone, muscle and skin have all been completely restructured.

Part of Zoe's face was missing when she was born. Photo: 7 News

“We walked through the recovery area at the theatres, and we walked straight past Zoe. We didn't recognise her!” Zoe’s dad Neil Allen said, while trying to fight back tears.

She has spent many milestones in hospital, up until her latest operation just a couple of weeks ago.

Emotional mum and dad, Neil and Jodie Allen, said the didn't even recognise their daughter after her surgery. Photo: 7 News

“Zoe’s biggest thing with this operation was getting her bottom eyelid. As she said to me when she was able to see, first thing she said was I look like you now mum,” Jodie Allen said.

Inspired by her courage, Zoe's sister Britney is planning to run 200km in April to raise $200,000 for the hospital.

Zoe's time at the Royal Children’s Hospital is far from over.

Zoe with her sister Britney. Photo: 7 News

Surgeons will need to keep operating on her face until she stops growing at around 18 years old.

But for now the 11 year old has an incredibly positive attitude.

“I feel special because I get like all the presents,” she said.

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