A woman has revealed she was left disfigured and suicidal after a rare disease made her face collapse - but has now found love.

Karla Deyes, now 26, from Burnham was rushed to hospital as a five-year-old when she had major convulsions.

Two years later she was diagnosed with Parry-Romberg syndrome, which causes shrinkage and degeneration of the tissues beneath the skin.

It meant the left side of her face was slowly "falling or melting away", leaving her with a lop-sided or asymmetrical appearance.

Brave Karla endured years of depression and botched operations and often told her family she wanted to die.

She said: "There was no one to talk to growing up because I didn’t know anyone else who had what I had.

"I felt like the only one like me in the world.

"One time I was with my aunt, and I told her that I would rather die of cancer tomorrow than have a whole life dealing with this. She was in bits."

Throughout her young life, Karla battled many issues that had arisen from the condition.

Her left leg was not growing at the same rate as her right, she would cover the left side of her face with hair as the muscle and tissue continued to thin and other children would "stare and laugh" as she walked by.

Though it can lie dormant for years, Parry-Romberg syndrome can be triggered by a trauma, and Karla said hers came on just after having MMR booster vaccine.

Parry-Romberg syndrome is incredibly rare and there is no evidence to suggest it is caused by vaccinations.

She was was an ordinary girl with no apparent health issues before she was rushed to Old Church Hospital, Romford, for treatment for a convulsion.

"I don't remember much about it anymore, but I can remember walking around the hospital on a drip for a while," she said.

Karla suffered a painful transition as the disease spread across her body.

The disease had caused her spine to curve sideways as her right side grew more quickly than her left.

Karla underwent a number of surgeries on her right knee to correct her twisted spine and unsuccessful facial reconstruction surgery, all before she was 13.

At one point, she was told she could be in a wheelchair before she turned 30.

Though her family supported her, she felt alone.

Karla said: "It was harder when I was younger, though, because they would want me to be happy.

"They rooted for me - but they also willed for me to be something I wasn’t."

Karla had jaw surgery aged 18 and a surgical fat transfer - known as grafting - to fill out her face aged 22.

Her confidence was at an all-time high, and she showed off her personality and her face by having her hair cut shorter.

She started dating, and is smitten with boyfriend Luke, a project manager from South Woodham Ferrers.

But what Karla really hopes is that she can inspire other Parry-Romberg sufferers to pick themselves up and take pride in their appearance.

She said: "There must be other people suffering like I did - but I've not met anyone with it yet.

"I've always wanted to do well in life, I've always wanted to prove people wrong."