By Aliki Kraterou
A new mum has told how a stranger on Facebook diagnosed her newborn baby with a rare condition that left her little girl looking like ‘she’d had a bucket of blood tipped over her head.’
Amanda Dobbins, 31, first noticed a little mark on baby Sophia’s face when she was less than a week old – but medics assured her it was a birthmark.
But Amanda, from Cardiff, Wales, was left horrified when the small red spot began to grow.
Within days, it had covered half of baby Sophia’s head and covered her eyelid making it difficult for her to open one eye.
Desperate for a diagnosis, Amanda posted in a Facebook group for new mums begging for help – and almost immediately, replies flooded in advising her to get Sophia checked for a haemangioma, a tumour formed of blood vessels under the skin.
Desperate Amanda and husband Neil eventually approached Great Ormond Street Hospital directly – where medics correctly diagnosed a haemangioma that if left untreated, could have left Sophia blind.
After a year on medication, the mark is remarkably almost gone – and Sophia is a smiley, happy 14 month-old.
Amanda, a pharmacy technician, said: “ When she was 3-4 days old we could see a tiny little mark at the tip of her nose, it was like a little scratch.
“First the doctors said it was a stork bite because it was really light pink- before we left the hospital it got a bit darker so they said it’s a port wine stain and that’s where they left it.
“When she was about two weeks old, we were really worried and didn’t know where to turn because it was just getting bigger and redder but I trusted the doctors.
“We were constantly researching, trying to find out information on port wine stain initially , what to do to keep it healthy and when it came out it was a haemangioma we had questions like ‘is she always going to have it’?, ‘is it going to get bigger?’- it was just a lot to take in.
“I was relieved when I posted the picture on Facebook and someone gave me some advice.
“A lady messaged me saying ‘I don’t think it’s a port wine stain, I think it’s something called haemangioma’.
“It all depends on the location but in Sophia’s case it was very close to her eye and could affected her sight.
“It went from very pale pink to looking like someone poured a pot of blood over her head, it was really swollen, it would bleed. “
Amanda then got in touch with Great Ormond Street Children’s hospital, where she got the details of how to proceed and what kind of treatment was available.
Little Sophia needed treatment and it all had to be done through the hospital but it took her parents almost a month to convince the doctors of their baby’s condition.
Sophia is now much better, the birthmark has almost disappeared and now her dosage will be reduced, to check if the mark regrows.
Amanda added:“It took three days going to the hospital because her haemangioma kept bleeding and we couldn’t stop it.
“Eventually they told us they’d start her on propranolol, but we’d have to stay in the hospital to be monitored.
“The medication affects her sleep, you have to be really careful with the dosage because it can affect the blood sugar and the blood pressure so you have to monitor it constantly.
“We didn’t really know what to do, she is our first child, we wanted to do the best for her, we didn’t know who to reach out to.
“We can’t really remember her with the full on birthmark– it’s very odd.
“We’ve been very lucky with people in general, we’ve only had maybe a few people staring and asking, ‘oh what she done, how did she fall over’ and we had to explain to them it’s not an accident it’s a birthmark.
“We are just grateful she is not old enough to understand that people are talking about her.
“When she gets older we want to teach her to appreciate it and learn it’s a part of who she is.
“And to know how much she’s been through at such a young age without realising it- she just doesn’t know how strong she is.
“It would have done some major damage- “Because of how quickly it developed and how quickly it grew if we hadn’t have gotten her on a treatment , when we did, she would possibly have damaged the sight in her right eye completely.
“I think we were very lucky- I dread to think what it could have cause if we had just listen to what the doctors had said, I don’t want to think what it could have done to her if we had just left. “