Latham, NY, December 8, 2016 – Brianna Brewer is a bright and fun-loving three-year-old who loves playing with her baby doll collection. Born in 2013, she lives in rural Ohio with her parents and two brothers. What sets Brianna apart, besides her bubbly personality, is a large vascular birthmark on her upper lip that had grown so large it was affecting the normal development of her mouth and teeth and impairing her speech.
Yesterday, Brianna underwent a transformative surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida to remove the birthmark. She also became the landmark 100,000th patient networked into treatment through the direct efforts of the Vascular Birthmark Foundation (VBF).
Just a few weeks after Brianna was born, mom Holliana Lockhart noticed a red growth on her daughter’s upper lip. Her pediatrician referred the family to specialists at a local hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who diagnosed the growth as an Infantile Hemangioma. The doctors recommended at-home treatments and said surgery was off the table until the birthmark began to shrink. Instead, it continued to grow.
“There is no denying the impact the birthmark has had on my daughter and our family,” explained Ms. Lockhart. “We worried about her future, her health and her ability to speak. The judgmental comments and stares we encounter made me very concerned for her self-esteem. This surgery is an incredible opportunity for Brianna and our family.”
“When Brianna’s mother shared her daughter’s story, I knew VBF had to intervene,” explained Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon (PhD), President and Founder of VBF. “This family’s journey is typical of many we have helped over the past 22 years. Despite the fact that early intervention could prevent complications, many patients postpone treatment based on physician recommendations to ‘wait and see.’ I am ecstatic that Brianna has received the life-changing surgery she needed with one of VBF’s expert surgeons.”
Dr. Chad Perlyn
, a Pediatric Plastic Surgeon at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital – part of Miami Children’s Health System, removed Brianna’s hemangioma on December 7th.
“Brianna’s story is one of the many that provide hope to young patients with vascular formations. I am confident that this surgery will not only improve her physical development, it will also offer Brianna and her family a better social and emotional quality of life,” said Dr. Perlyn.
Dr. Perlyn and Dr. Rozell-Shannon are optimistic that, within a short time following surgery, Brianna will be meeting her developmental milestones.
The surgery and related expenses for the 100,000th patient networked into treatment were paid through a joint effort between the VBF and the Frank Catalanotto Foundation (FCF). A former Major League Baseball player, Mr. Catalanotto and his wife Barbara were assisted by Dr. Rozell-Shannon when their own daughter, Morgan, was diagnosed with a hemangioma in 1999. Today, the Catalanottos are the Honorary Chairs and leading supporters of the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation.
The VBF’s mission is to ensure that every patient living with a vascular birthmark receives an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.
About the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation
Founded in 1994 by Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation is an international charitable organization that networks families affected by a vascular birthmark, tumor, or syndrome to the appropriate medical professionals for evaluation and/or treatment, provides informational resources as well as sponsors physician education, mobilizes medical missions trips, and supports research and programs that promote acceptance for individuals with birthmarks. For more information, visit www.birthmark.org