Matthew is a completely different child thanks to the state-of-the-art treatment now available at The James Cook University Hospital’s specialist birthmark clinic.
Little Matthew developed a deep cherry-coloured birthmark across his nose just days after he was born but after three bleomycin injections it has almost completely disappeared.
It was only by chance that Matthew, now 18 months, was referred to the specialist birthmark clinic at James Cook, by his Darlington GP.
His parents had the option to wait a couple of years for laser surgery or try the bleomycin injection. As the birthmark was growing dangerously close to his eye they opted to try the bleomycin treatment and Matthew had his first injection at just six months old.
They said: “A lot of thoughts go through your mind as a parent. You notice people staring and you can’t help but worry about whether they will get bullied at school.
“A lot of people have to wait years for laser treatment but we could start the injections straight away.
“It was not dramatic at first but friends and family started to notice a difference and now people mistake the birthmark for a patch of eczema. The difference is amazing.
“We did not expect it to look this good. He’s just a completely different child.”
Discovering the bleomycin treatment has been nothing short of life changing for Trisha.
Trisha, 61, was born with a vascular malformation the size of a pinprick but as she grew up it grew with her, affecting her face and also her tongue.
“I had quite a lot of operations as a child that left me with a lot of scars on my face. I also had laser surgery, but my tongue was never operated on as it was believed to be too dangerous,” said Trisha.
“I suffered from sleep apnea as my airway would get blocked because of the size of my tongue – I had to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine for 10 years. The size of my tongue would also cause me to slur my words so it often sounded as if I was drunk and I would avoid eating out as my tongue would pour with blood if I ate anything sharp. I was very self conscious.”
Trisha’s unusual condition was seen by a number of experts and she was deemed untreatable before she was referred to the birthmark clinic at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the bleomycin injections. The non-invasive treatment produced some amazing results, reducing Trisha’s tongue back to a normal size and allowing her to get on with her life.
“It’s an absolute miracle. I am much more confident and outgoing now. It’s given me a new lease of life,” said Trisha.
“I just wish this treatment had been available when I was growing up.”
Eight-year-old Rosie was born with a large swelling on her right leg and knee which left her unable to kneel down and often caused her a lot of pain.
Doctors advised that she would be able to have an operation to treat the venous malformation when she was older but then she was referred to South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust where she was told about a new leading edge treatment – the bleomycin injection.
“I was really pleased when we were offered the bleomycin injections,” said her mum. “We were quite happy to give anything a go. We did not want Rosie to suffer.
“She has had about eight injections and they have made a massive improvement.
“You forget what a difference it has made until you look back at the photographs. It’s surprising how much the swelling has gone down, before it would rub against her other knee. I would certainly recommend the bleomycin treatment to others.
“We were just so lucky that we only had to travel to Middlesbrough. One family we met was travelling all the way from Cornwall for the treatment.”