By Hannah Crocker
This beautiful tot has a rapidly growing tumour that’s squashing her face.
Little Sophia-Elizabeth Wicksted was perfect when she was born, other than a faint birthmark on the side of her nose.
But as the weeks went by, doting parents Michelle Green, 33, and Steven Wicksted, 32, were terrified as the mark grew and grew.
Now 11 weeks old, the faint birthmark has mutated into a bloody red lump – that could keep on growing, and eventually take over Sophia’s whole face.
The benign tumour – known as a hemangioma, a collection of blood vessels grouped together into a lump – is already starting to squash little Sophia’s nose and right eye, causing her breathing issues and blurring her vision.
But Michelle and Steven think Sophia is beautiful regardless of her hemangioma – and now they’re sharing the shocking pictures of its rapid progression to raise awareness.
First-time mum Michelle, a teacher from Liverpool, said: “When Sophia was born she had a very faint mark on the right side of her nose – it was barely noticeable.
“Midwives and health visitors told us it was a stork mark, a common birthmark that babies are often born with – they normally fade completely after a couple of weeks.
“But it just started getting redder, and then it started growing.
“When she was three to four weeks old it was still getting bigger, it had become a brighter red and it was really raised.
“I still thought it was a birthmark and it would fade eventually.
“But a girl I went to school with, who’s a nurse, commented on a picture of Sophia and said she thought it was a hemangioma.
“It’s a type of benign tumour – it’s a birthmark that grows as the baby grows.
“It’s already affecting her breathing through her nose and it’s starting to grow into her eye more – and as it has its own blood supply it will continue to grow and grow.
“Eventually, it could take over her whole face.”
Michelle and Steven, a HMRC worker, took her for a check-up at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to be on the safe side – luckily, there is a treatment which will stunt the growth of Sophia’s tumour, and hopefully shrink it eventually, correcting her breathing and vision problems.
Michelle said: “Doctors checked her eyes and her breathing, and did an MRI scan.
“She’s just started treatment, which involves taking beta blockers three times a day for a year.
“This should cut off the blood supply to the hemangioma to stop it growing, and hopefully it will eventually shrink it too.”
After sharing pictures of cute Sophia on Instagram, Michelle has been inundated with messages from parents saying their children have something similar, and praising her for raising awareness of hemangiomas.
Michelle said strangers always comment on how beautiful Sophia is, despite her birthmark, and she has even been asked to model clothes on her Instagram account.
But when Michelle takes her adorable baby girl out and about, she said she can often hear disapproving mutters from strangers – who think the bright red lump is a result of Sophia being injured.
She said: “We’ve had people stop us on the bus before asking how she’d hurt herself – I can see them giving each other disapproving looks and muttering to each other.
“It does look like blood on her face – sometimes children ask why her face is bleeding.
“We do get negative comments – people think I’m disappointed with how Sophia looks, because she’s having treatment.
“We think Sophia is beautiful regardless – we are only ensuring she has treatment for health reasons.
“Not all hemangiomas will need treatment, and they can be harmless on certain parts of the body.
“But most of the comments we get are more out of curiosity – children are always intrigued, and a lot of people have never heard of hemangiomas and think it’s great that she’s overcoming any stigma attached to it.
“We’re keen to help raise more awareness – although hemangiomas can look scary and serious, a lot of the time they’re harmless.”