Treating rare disorders

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Every 8 seconds a baby is born in the United States and sometimes the child is born with a deformity. One family is sharing their story of how surgery helped.

Oliver’s dad vividly remembers his son’s birth.

“I remember probably most vividly was the doctor saying to me, all right dad, get your camera ready. Pretty shortly thereafter that’s when sort of the air was taken out of the room. She said no,” said Jennifer and Peter Heilbron.

Oliver was born with a large, soft cystic mass under his armpit.

Dean Anselmo, MD, Pediatric Surgeon, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles said, “It was so large that his, his arm was completely elevated up over his head and it was stuck in that position.”

The 12-ounce mass was a Lymphatic malformation.

“When a lymphatic malformation develops those, instead of those lymphatic channels developing as tiny little tubes, they develop like little bubbles or balloons,” said Doctor Anselmo.

Pediatric Surgeon Dean Anselmo is the Co-Director of the Vascular Abnormalities Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, one of the few in the country that uses Sclerotherapy for vascular malformations.

“I kind of describe it like if you put super glue inside a balloon and then try to fill it up with water. It can’t. It won’t fill up,” said Doctor Anselmo.

Using a needle, doctors injected a special medication into the cyst that causes the wall to collapse. It took three consecutive treatments to reduce Olivers malformation from this to this.

Left with a surgical scar that’s barely visible and full use of this right arm.

“So there are days where I look at him and I see his tiny little remnant of a scar and I’m like, I can’t believe that this is that, that is not how he was born,” said Jennifer Heilbron.

These types of malformations develop between four to six weeks of gestation, and often cannot be seen during a prenatal ultrasound.

20 years ago, this story may have a different ending for Oliver. Surgeons would have immediately cut the cyst off often leading to a reoccurrence of the malformation or causing problems that could last a lifetime.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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