The fate of a Chinese boy who was born with a rare facial defect has caught the attention of millions.

The child, born in southern China's Hunan Province, suffered from a severe transverse facial cleft, which means there are two huge gaps appearing from both sides of his mouth leading towards his ears.

Due to the deformation, Huikang seems to have two faces, which has caused the media to call him the "mask boy", a nickname he has had for the past seven years, the Daily Mail reports.

Huikang was born on March 4 in 2009 to a humble family of farmers from Zhongsha town in Xiangtan city, according to a previous report by Changsha Evening News.

Advertisement

Instead of the joyful feeling a new mother would have while meeting their baby for the first time, Huikang's mother, Yi Lianxi, said she was devastated.

She said at first the doctors would avoid showing her the baby after Huikang was delivered.

And after she repeatedly requested to see the child, the doctors brought her the baby and "my whole body felt numb".

She said to a reporter from Changsha Evening News: "I saw the child was crying, and I cried too. I felt my heart had broken. Why would this happen to me."

Yi Lianxi, who was 23 years old at the time of his birth, was not only shattered by her son's birth defect, but also puzzled.

The woman said that she had undergone three ultrasound scans and one Doppler ultrasound scan during her pregnancy. No deformation had been detected.

Huikang's grandmother even said that a lot of the family's acquaintances suggested they should throw away the child, but she said "how could we do that".

Living in a traditional and impoverished village in rural China, Huikang's family were teased and looked down upon by their neighbours for the boy's unusual appearance.

Huikang's story was heavily reported in 2010 when his mother took her to the No. 163 Military Hospital in Changsha for treatment.

In 2010, Huikang underwent two surgical operations at the No. 163 Military Hospital.
In 2010, Huikang underwent two surgical operations at the No. 163 Military Hospital.

The press and public expressed an outpouring of sympathy towards Huikang and his family, who struggled with expensive medical bills.

Wang Duquan, a doctor from the hospital, told a reporter at the time that Huikang's condition was extremely rare and very serious.

Dr Wang said: "Not only his soft tissues were damaged, broken and moved, his temporal bone, cheekbones, sphenoid bone and upper jaw were all damaged."

With the donations from the public, the child's family were able to afford surgical operations for Huikang in 2010 which reportedly cost some 400,000 yuan (NZ$81,250).

On May 19 and September 1, Huikang underwent two operations at the No. 163 Military Hospital.

Dr Duquan, who led the treatment, said in an TV interview with Hunan Public Channel that both operation were successful.

However, he added that Huikang would need to wait for about 10 years to see if his facial bones would grow in a normal way.

TV footage at the time showed that Huikang had already looked better after the first operation.
TV footage at the time showed that Huikang had already looked better after the first operation.

TV footage at the time showed that Huikang had already looked better after the first operation.

In the past seven years, Huikang's story and pictures have been widely shared by different Chinese media. Most people were shocked by Huikang's condition and were looking for ways to help the family.

Last month, reports on Huikang's stories appeared again on Chinese-language news websites such as ET Today, after Huikang's pictures had been shared on social media and online forums.

Sadly, there have been no further reports on how little Huikang is recovering.

Reporter Liu Jun, who wrote the story for Changsha Evening News some seven years ago, told MailOnline that he had not contacted Huikang and his family since he visited the boy in the hospital in 2010.

As a result, he does not know whether or not the boy is still suffering from the facial deformation.

MailOnline is awaiting a response from No. 163 Military Hospital for an update on Huikang's current situation.