George Ashman, a 4-year-old boy from Radstock, Somerset, England was born with a distinguishing birthmark known as haemangioma birthmark. It is a benign tumor formed by accumulated extra blood vessels right under the skin, it is also commonly known as ‘strawberry mark’ due to its reddish pinkish color. These birthmarks mostly appear on the face, chest or scalp.
When George’s mother, Karen saw her child for the first time after giving birth, all she could think about was the negative impact of this striking birthmark. She was very concerned that when he’ll grow up and go to school with other kids they may not treat him normally. Her worries were very practical.
Everything else is normal, it was just the fact that this mark might change his life forever.
In Karen’s words,
”When he was born immediately my mind raced forward ten years.
George would be the picked-on kid with no friends, no girlfriend.”
After the treatments were processed in 2009, George was admitted to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
He underwent a procedure where tissue expanders known as inflatable sacks that look like balloons were inserted in his forehead. These expanders will eventually inflate with natural body fluid and stretch the skin around the birthmark and after that, the extra skin will be used in covering up the mark in a concluding surgery.
This is what he looked like after they inserted the sacks on his forehead.
It looks just like implanted horns. Karen said,
“When I first saw the implants in place I was speechless. They were larger than I expected – and placed on either side of his tiny head looked like horns! My cute, angel-faced baby looked like the devil! Like Frankenstein! They didn’t look nice at all.”
The sacks grew in size resulting in a huge horn-like extra part.
Sadly, little George became a victim of bullying wherever he went. It broke his mother’s heart to see her child subjected to such cruelty which he didn’t ask for.
”I was tearful and emotional. I had no problem loving my son but others’ reactions were hard to deal with. I felt like everyone was against us. School kids hanging around on street corners were laughing and pointing. Children and adults would stare at George. Teenagers were worse. Pushing him down the street in his pram, people were staring at us, whispering. Hanging around on street corners they’d look up and snigger as I scuttled past with the pushchair.”
But after 4 months of treatment, it was finally time for some healing.
The boy went down with the surgery on April 2010, where they removed the implants and removed the birthmark. And they stitched the stretched skin together and everything was back to normal with just a small line of the scar.
Karen said, “My little devil’s got guts – and with or without his birthmark and his horns I’ll always love him to bits for that”.
Now, he looks like as if nothing happened at all.
It’s truly amazing how Medical Science and Technology can change lives.
Here is another story of a woman named Jennifer Hiles suffering from facial arterial venous malformation.
Jennifer was 12 years old when she was first diagnosed with AVM. She underwent numerous surgeries and treatment to remove the deformity but unfortunately, they were all unsuccessful. When she was a baby her parents said that it was a birthmark, but then it eventually grew and expanded.
She too like George became a victim of bullying and harassment for her facial deformity.
As a young teenager, she suffered life-threatening problems due to her AVM and was always making rounds in the hospital.
Fast forward, she is now married and has two daughters and finally plans to have the same procedure of implants that George underwent.
29-year-old is hopeful that her latest surgery will give her a normal face, that’s all she wants.
“The tissue expanders were just like breast implants but in my face – like a big balloon with saline inside. I don’t know if I’m ever going to look normal; I don’t want to look perfect, just normal.”
After eight weeks of having the saline-filled tissue under her skin, she and her family flew to New York for the recovery surgery.
A team of doctors while the surgery was going on.
These are the saline implants they removed from her face.
This is what she looks like now after the surgery and reformation of her facial structure.
In the surgery, they totally removed her nose and rebuild it from scratch from her jaw. One of her surgeons Dr. Milton Waner said,
”The surgery went exceptionally well. I’m very happy, so when she’s healed up she’s going to look very good”.
“I’m happy with where I’m at right now with all the progress, just to see how far I’ve come makes me so hopeful for the future. I just hope that all my next surgeries go as planned and the scars all fade and one day I can just walk into a room and have people see me for me and not my condition all the time.”
Around 80% of people are born with some sort of birthmark. Here are some unique birthmarks that you should see:
This one is shaped like a map. Amazing!