CHINA - After undergoing a life-saving drug treatment, a 16-year-old girl from China woke up one day to find herself growing thick unsightly hair all over her body, making her look like a man.
According to a report by Xinhua, the girl's name is Nana, and she is from Jinhua, Zhejiang province.
She was diagnosed with a life-threatening form of aplastic anaemia in 2010 - a condition where the bone marrow is not able produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells.
According to the National Bone Marrow Donor Programme, people with very severe aplastic anaemia are at risk for life-threatening infections or bleeding.
"The doctor said that the condition was very serious and without treatment, she would die," the girl's mother told Xinhua. Nana could not eat and kept vomiting, worrying her family.
Her doctor quickly put her on a potent course of drug therapy, and two years later, her blood indicators have returned to normal. However, one shocking side-effect from the therapy is that Nana developed a rare condition called hirsutism.
Hirsutism - which is when women grow excessive hair on parts of their body where hair does not normally occur or is minimal - has caused Nana to grow a heavy beard and moustache.
"The doctor said that the medication would have very major side-effects. Within a month of taking the drugs, the hair on her arms and face started to thicken, and she even grew a beard," her mother said.
When the Xinhua reporter met the girl, she was wearing a gray long-sleeved shirt, black pants and a face mask. She resolutely kept her head down and was reluctant to talk much.
Her strange appearance has caused the once lively girl to become a recluse.
Traumatised by her new appearance, Nana now refuses to leave the house and instead quietly hides in her room alone.
She owns no mirrors, and spends her time reading and doing homework.
According to the report, Nana used to be a daughter other mothers would admire.
Back then, she had fair and clear skin and was an excellent student, her grades having always placed her in the top five in her class.
Now all her mother hopes for is a speedy recovery for her daughter and that Nana will be able to return to school one day.
"Every day she cries, wanting to go to school," her mother said.
No money left for treatment
No money left for treatment
There are days when Nana will not speak a word, and increasingly, she spends her hours hidden in her room reading books by herself, the report said.
In addition, the family worries that the family savings will run out one day and that there will soon be no money for Nana to continue her treatment.
Her parents have so far spent about 300,000 yuan (S$58,662) on the medical treatment - largely financed by the sale of the family plot of land, which brought in about 100,000 yuan.
Nana's father toils away at odd jobs to earn money to support his family, but they still face the burden of a huge debt to clear and mounting medical expenses.
"The doctor said Nana initially could have been cured within three years. But we have no money, hence we have to keep reducing the amount of drugs administered, prolonging the treatment.
"My girl is not cured, but we have no money to see the doctor. My husband, daughter and I all feel very helpless," she told the reporter.