A toddler with a large facial tumor had the growth removed after traveling with her family from her native Kuwait to New York.
When one-year-old Noor Nunez was born, she had what looked like a small scratch between her eyebrows, so her parents didn’t think anything of it.
However, over the next several months, it began to darken and grow until the mass was partially covering her left eye.
Noor was diagnosed with a hemangioma, a benign tumor that forms in infants, but no treatments or medications seemed to help.
Her parents turned to a birth mark website, where they connected with a head and neck surgeon in New York, who told the family he could remove the tumor via surgery.
Noor Nunez, one (pictured), from Kuwait, was born with a hemangioma, a benign tumor made up of blood vessels that gather under the skin
The tumor started as a scratch but eventually grew to where it was partially covering her left eye. No medication prescribed by doctors in Kuwait helped the tumor shrink. Pictured: Noor before the surgery, left, and after the surgery, right
Noor’s mother, Ranya Al-Mutairi, said that when her daughter was born, the birthmark was barely visible.
‘When she was born, it was only a simple scratch,’ Al-Mutairi, 37, told the New York Daily News.
Noor was diagnosed with a hemangioma, which is a collection of blood vessels that gather underneath the skin to form a bump.
It starts as a small red mark anywhere on the body, most commonly on the face, but can grow into a lump that sticks out from the skin.
Hemangiomas are the most common childhood tumor and occur in about 10 percent of infants, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Many of these tumors are gone by the time a child is age five and most disappear by age 10.
If not, a doctor may prescribe beta blocker drugs or corticosteroid medications, or even recommend surgery.
Doctors in Kuwait told Noor’s parents that the tumor would resolve on its own, but it continued to grow.
By the time she was six months told, the tumor started covering her left eye, and no drugs helped, reported the Daily News.
Al-Mutairi told the newspaper she was afraid that the hemangioma would bleed if Noor bruised herself, so she made sure her daughter was very careful.
The family contacted Dr. Gregory Levitin, a vascular birthmark specialist in New York City, via a website. He said surgery was the only option remove the tumor and that he could do it. Pictured: Noor before the surgery, left, and after the surgery, right
Noor underwent the two-and-half-hour surgery on July 24 at Mount Sinai. Pictured: Mount Sinai surgeons perform the operation on Noor
‘I don’t let her crawl,’ she said. ‘I was afraid. I wouldn’t know where to go if an incident like that happened.’
Desperate for help, the family found BirthMarkCare.com and began emailing with Dr Gregory Levitin, the director of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations, at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in January.
‘A lot of people just watch and wait but not all of them disappear,’ Dr Levitin told DailyMail.com.
‘My goodness look how much growth can happen in just one year. Look how disfiguring it could be.’
Noor’s father, Joe Nunez, an American-born contractor for the US Army, sent the physicians photos of the hemangioma
Dr Levitin said he empathized with the family because one of his twin daughters, now 18, had a large vascular birth mark.
‘When a father reaches out to me [about this], I know what the father feels like,’ he said.
‘For my daughter, we weren’t initially able to find someone. We had to find a specialist…What wouldn’t you do for your child?’
Dr Levitin said that laser surgery should help return her skin to its normal color. Pictured, left to right: Noor’s father, Joe Nunez; her brother Omar, three; her mother, Ranya Al-Mutairi; Noor and Dr Levitin
Noor has returned to Kuwait and Dr Levitin will monitor her progress with photos via email and Whats App. Pictured: Noor being held by her mother, with her father and Dr Levitin
Dr Levitin said he could remove 80 percent of the tumor but that if he removed any more, Noor wouldn’t have a symmetrical face.
However, with laser treatment will return the skin to its normal color.
The family flew to New York on July 18 and, on July 24, Dr Levitin performed the two-and-a-half hour surgery at Mount Sinai.
After the surgery, Al-Mutairi told the Daily News: ‘I started crying. It was a huge difference.
‘She’s great, shockingly. She is really brave and strong.’
The family is now back in Kuwait and is staying in touch with Dr Levitin through email and WhatsApp, and he will track her progress with photos.
‘Seek out early treatment for vascular birth marks,’ Dr Leviting said. ‘Early treatment makes all the difference.’