BEAMING Mark Morris is celebrating after pioneering surgery repaired his smile.
The engineer (41) suffered a brain tumour in 2008 which required two operations to remove and save his life.
To do so, surgeons had to sever the cord connecting his brain to his face, which meant he lost control of one side making it impossible to smile.
In March he was the first patient in the east of England, and one of only a handful in the country, to undergo a new procedure to give back control to him.
It meant that only a few weeks after the operation he can smile again, rather than the two years it would have taken under the old system.
Mark, from Paston, said: “I spent two weeks only being allowed to eat soft food which drove me crazy.
“Now I can chew and I can start using my face. I’m now learning all the time.
“I can make it smile now by gritting my teeth. I don’t have any set excercises but I’ve just got to see what works for me.
“It’s just great. I’ve been looking at pictures and it is just unbelievable.
“Now I am smiling like I should be, but before the operation I didn’t even like having my picture taken.”
Mark was given the green light to chew again by consultant plastic surgeon Richard Price at Addenbrooke’s Hospital last week.
But it wasn’t the only piece of good news he could celebrate and he was formally discharged from the neurological unit in Cambridge after his last MRI scan gave him the all-clear.
It now means he can completely return to a normal life, freeing up his spare time.
But for now he is getting used to being able to use his face muscles again and enjoying solid food.
He said: “I can highly recommend soft food as a diet - I’ve lost loads of weight.
“Everything I eat now though tastes great. It’s a bit weird.
“Getting the all-clear has been a huge weight off me. Now I won’t have to spend so much time in Cambridge, which became a second home.”
Throughout Mark’s ordeal he has had invaluable support from family and friends, particularly at Watling JCB, in Oxney Road, where he works.
His mum Jackie Coulson (65), from New England, said: “It has been very hard going for him but it’s all turned out well and last week was the icing on the cake.”
Mark also paid tribute to Courage To Smile through which he has met people with similar problems and supported each other.
For more information search Courage To Smile on Facebook.
THE pioneering surgery used is called temporalis myoplasty and was developed in France.
Consultant plastic surgeon Richard Price crossed the channel to learn the technique and asked Mark if he would mind if he tried it out on him.
It took about four hours, cutting through his cheek bone and putting it back together with titanium screws.The muscle was moved from his jawbone to his cheek bone which is now being used to smile.