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I have a rib put in my cheek

DANNIELLA WESTBROOK is hoping the surgery will not only rebuild her face but also restore her shattered confidence.

Years of drug addiction are over the former EastEnders star with crumbling bones and a collapsed jaw and cheekbones — damage she now believes was caused by cocaine spiked with deadly animal dewormer.

Danniella has already had the first two of five surgeries at Liverpool's Aintree Hospital and one of the procedures involves inserting part of one of her ribs into her cheek

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Danniella has already had the first two of five surgeries at Liverpool’s Aintree Hospital and one of the procedures involves inserting part of one of her ribs into her cheekCredit: MARK HAYMAN/FABULOUS MAGAZINE
Danniella first rose to fame in EastEnders, playing Sam Mitchell for a decade from 1990 before returning in 2009 and 2016

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Danniella first rose to fame in EastEnders, playing Sam Mitchell for a decade from 1990 before returning in 2009 and 2016Credit: PA:Press Association
Danniella and ex-husband Kevin Jenkins married in 2014 and divorced in 2020

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Danniella and ex-husband Kevin Jenkins married in 2014 and divorced in 2020

The mother of two has already had two out of FIVE reconstructive surgeries at Aintree Hospital in Liverpool, and one of the procedures involves inserting part of one of her ribs into her cheek.

the former soap star hopes improving her looks will end the daily tirade of abuse she receives from online trolls destroying her self-esteem.

Danniella, 48, says: “I hate how I look. I’m always laughed at and trolled for it.

“People text me and say, ‘You’re so ugly, you’re a junkie, you should just go and kill yourself.’ I’ve also had messages that they’re glad I’m not coming back to the EastEnders because nobody wants me scaring their kids on TV.

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“I act like I’m fine, always happy to get back on my feet and fight every fight. But on the inside, that’s not the case, and that feeling makes me really lonely.

“Sometimes I wake up and I’m like, ‘I don’t want to die today, but I don’t want to face the world either.'”

Danniella who took her first line of cocaine at 14 and said to have blown £250,000 for drugs, insists she will not undergo surgery to silence the trolls.

She says: “For years after my relapse (2014) I didn’t care what I looked like because I was in a crazy whirlwind of destruction.

“But I’ve gotten to a point where looking like this upsets me, so I’m going to change something — not because of what other people think, but so I can be happy the way I am.”

“It will change my appearance but will also help with my breathing and my sinus problems.

“It’s also about my health. I will come for the big operation, the bone replacement, at the end of April. And then the last operation to optimize and finish the nose is at the end of May.”

After speaking with a counselor, Danniella is convinced that the deterioration of her face is the result of using cocaine cut with the veterinary drug levamisole.

Normally used to deworm cattle, pigs and sheep, it rots human flesh and bones.

She says: “It gnaws at your skin.

“RESIDENCE RISK IN ESSEX IS HUGE”

“When you stop taking medication, your immune system becomes weakened and the effects are still slow to kick in. I’m convinced that’s what happened to my face.”

Danniella has left her home in Essex and moved to a village near Harrogate, North Yorks, where she is studying for an NVQ in therapy and is helping to set up a holistic wellness centre.

She has also been celibate for a year, which has helped her.

She says: “Giving up sex and being alone has helped me figure things out. I’ve been in and out of relationships since I was 15.” The actress finds life where she lives also keeps temptation at bay.

If you stop taking medication, your immune system will be weakened and the effects will still kick in slowly. I’m convinced that’s what happened to my face.

She says: “The risk of recidivism in Essex is huge and I cannot jeopardize my recovery by living there again.

“You get caught up in this lifestyle and the drinks and drugs that come with it.

“I just can’t keep up with the Joneses thing.

“It’s such a wrong lifestyle – you might have the body of a gymnast but on the weekends you sit on the toilet and do drugs. For me this is not life.

“It’s all show and no-go – champagne taste and soda money because it’s all on HP, hire purchase.

“As long as they drive the Range Rover and live in a mock Tudor house, life is wonderful.

“Forget it – I’d rather live alone in my cottage in the country and drive my Fiat 500.

“I love being part of a community and that’s what you get up north. I think people are much more authentic.

“I love their kindness and the fact that they are less judgmental.”

Danniella first rose to fame in EastEnders, playing Sam Mitchell for a decade from 1990 before returning in 2009 and 2016.

I just can’t keep up with the Joneses thing. It’s such a wrong lifestyle – you might have the body of a jock, but on the weekends you sit on the toilet and do drugs. For me this is not life.

Producers announced in January that the character would be returning to Albert Square, but played by Kim Medcalf, who took on the role between 2002 and 2005 – news Danniella only found out from the newspapers.

She says: “Sam is as dead to me as Peggy Mitchell. She is RIP.

“Even if they came back to me in a few years, I’d tell them they can put it where the sun doesn’t shine.

“If the show is even still on.”

Danniella is now clean after briefly relapsing last fall — a slip she shared on social media, saying she’s sick of “feeling like a cheat” and vowing to walk “every step” of the 12 Revise a step-by-step program for addiction healing.

Though she no longer keeps track of how long she’s been sober, she plans to “smash” her previous 14-year record, a time she now acknowledges as the best of her adult life.

She says: “I will continue forever, but I no longer keep any data or records on it because if I did, I relapsed. So I won’t be jumping for bunches of keys, but I do a lot of meetings.”

Their son Kai, from a relationship with car dealer Robert Fernandez, is 25, while daughter Jodie – from businessman Kevin Jenkins’ ex-husband, who Danniella split with in 2014 – is 20.

Danniella says: “I’m so proud of my children, they haven’t had it easy.

“Never thought I’d make it to 50”

“They had a nice life for the years I was clean but then a horrible time when Kevin and I broke up and I relapsed.

“Kai picked up the pieces from it. He was the one who got me back on my feet. When my family couldn’t talk to me because they couldn’t take the pain anymore, my son left home and came back to take care of me.

“Kai is the one I ask for advice – he’s very smart. He bought into crypto right at the start and just bought a house from it.

“And Jodie is my best friend. She is a very strong person, very smart and stubborn like her father.

“I chose my addiction over them. And I have to take responsibility for that.”

Kevin’s divorce came about in 2020 and Danniella admits the breakup is still somewhat sad despite not having seen or spoken to her former partner in years.

I’m so proud of my kids, they didn’t have it easy. They had a nice life for the years I was clean, but then a horrible time when Kevin and I broke up and I relapsed.

She says: “I absolutely love my ex-husband and it’s actually my biggest regret that we broke up. There’s no chance we’ll get back together, but there are no hard feelings.

“I haven’t even seen him, although I can’t say that if I did I wouldn’t fall in love with him all over again.”

Danniella will be turning 50 next year – a milestone she plans to celebrate at a yoga retreat.

She says: “I never thought I would make it to 50.

“I want my body to be in the best possible shape. I’m not interested in having big bangers and looking like I’m 25 anymore.

“I just want to be a woman who is good looking for her age, like Cindy Crawford or Jane Fonda.”

And while Danniella is happily single, there’s someone who could soon play a more important role in her life.

She mentions an old friend who has been in prison for the past five years and is scheduled to be released next year.

But she plays her cards close to her chest and won’t reveal more than that.

She says: “You can’t really have a relationship with someone who’s in prison, but we’re very close – let’s put it that way. And at the age I am, I wouldn’t want to look for anyone else either.”

How does she see herself now? “I see a woman who can change other people’s lives with my story,” she says. “I have inner strength and self-love.

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“I’m not an expert, but I can inspire other people and change the way we look at mental health and addiction.

“I have a platform and will use it to help other people and I feel blessed for that.”

Danniella poses with her close friend Ryan Mira

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Danniella poses with her close friend Ryan MiraCredit: INSTAGRAM/DANNIELLA WESTBROOK
Danniella will be turning 50 next year - a milestone she plans to celebrate at a yoga retreat

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Danniella will be turning 50 next year – a milestone she plans to celebrate at a yoga retreatCredit: INSTAGRAM/DANNIELLA WESTBROOK
I just want to be a woman who is good-looking for her age, like Jane Fonda or Cindy Crawford, says Danniella - pictured here is 2009

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I just want to be a woman who is good-looking for her age, like Jane Fonda or Cindy Crawford, says Danniella – pictured here is 2009Credit: Handout
Danniella's daughter Jodie, 20, looks just like her mother

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Danniella’s daughter Jodie, 20, looks just like her mother
Danniella's son Kai, 25, was a rock to her

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Danniella’s son Kai, 25, was a rock to her

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/18109338/danniella-westbrook-reconstructive-surgery/ I have a rib put in my cheek

Dais Johnston

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