By Josh Saunders
Meet the baby who is cruelly mocked for his deadly ‘baseball mitt’ hand that’s five times larger than normal and could kill him at any moment.
Little Dreshawn Dixon, from Bridgeville in Delaware, USA, was born with lymphedema, which causes a fluid to build up that has swollen his fingers and palm to an abnormal proportion.
Doctors were initially baffled by the condition before genetic testing explained the blockage of the lymphatic system caused his hand to balloon five times larger – the size of a baseball mitt.
In hope of combatting the swelling his mother Crystal, 27, wraps his hand in compression garments and gives him lymphatic massages throughout the day.
In public, strangers laugh, stare and cruelly call the one-year-old ‘fat hand’, but his mum maintains she loves him for his difference and is not ashamed.
But as Dreshawn’s hand continues to enlarge it will present a greater risk to him – a mere cut could cause him to bleed to death or an infection could be fatal.
Crystal, a fulltime mum-of-five, said: “I noticed how large his hand was after he was born, but even doctors didn’t know what was wrong and claimed to have ‘never seen anything like it’.
“His hand was not the normal size that a baby’s palm should be, it was more like a five-year-olds, it was really fat and five times larger.
“Later he was diagnosed with lymphedema, which caused fluid to build-up making his fingers really fat, fingertips very large and swelling his palm like a baseball mitt.
“Over the months, it has continued to increase as he has grown and causes him a lot of pain every day.
“Because of the size of his hand, if he gets a cut he could bleed to death or suffer a dangerous infection, so we always have to watch him and he can’t play as much as other babies.
“Any time I go down to the market kids laugh and call him names like ‘fat hand’, others come up and ask, ‘What’s wrong with him’, which was initially hard to hear.
“There were times where I would cry and get upset if someone gave me a weird look or asked about his differences but now I’m much stronger.
“I learned to get over it, I was depressed every time I would go outside at first but now I don’t care what anyone thinks.
“My son may be a bit different but he is a gifted and is a happy baby, I will not let him be ashamed of who he is.
“I’ve learned to love my son for the way he is and how his condition affects him.”
Due to his condition, Dreshawn has to go to the hospital for regular check-ups and over time, as his hand continues to swell it reduces his dexterity more.
Crystal added: “He has ultrasound scans on his kidney and liver every four months, to make sure there are no tumours growing inside his body.
“He cries every night because of his hand and has restricted mobility with it, he struggles to picking up small things but is constantly trying.”
Currently to fit the size of Dreshawn’s hand, his mum has to cut the sleeves off clothing and often buys clothes meant for children two years older.
Crystal said: “I have to get clothing to fit a three-year-old so his hand can comfortably fit through.
“I have to buy him new clothes every two weeks because his hand is too large and we always have to cut through them or cut off the sleeve off.”
Plastic surgeons believe they will be able to help Dreshawn in future and reduce some of the swelling, but a permanent solution isn’t guaranteed.
Until then, Crystal regularly massages his hand throughout the day to try to stop lymphatic fluid from gathering and swelling his hand to an even larger size.
Crystal said: “I wrap up his hand on a daily basis in the hopes of reducing and preventing the swelling from continuing to grow.
“I also buy things to try to make the swelling go down, nothing is helping so far but all I can do is hope.
“A plastic surgeon has told us to watch what happens over the next year before we explore those routes.”
Crystal credits her mum Lisa Hall, 47, for inspiring her to see her son’s physical difference in a positive light.
She added: “When I was upset she wiped my tears and told me everything would be okay with my son, she told me not to give up and to keep fighting.
“She has a beautiful heart and told me to live for today not tomorrow, which has helped me to keep positive for my son.”
Crystal is now fundraising, to help cover the cost of daily wraps and medical treatment neglected by her insurance that helps to keep Dreshawn safe.
She said: “I don’t want his hand to get any bigger, knowing that it will continue to grow with lymphedema is already quite scary for us.
“You can see the big difference between his two hands already, his left is very wide, swollen and chubby just like a baseball mitten.
“As a family, we are constantly watching him because we don’t want him to get hurt or risk injuring his hand.
“But despite the risks, he is a very happy baby right now, he doesn’t really know what’s going on but when he’s old enough to understand I’ll make sure he’s not ashamed.”
You can donate by visiting: www.gofundme.com/dreshawn-has-lympadema