Parents Sent Daughter to Surgery to Remove Rare Birthmark, “People Would Stare at Her”
A relieved mother recently shared the heartening moment her baby girl bid farewell to a birthmark on her forehead. But not first facing criticism from the medical authorities.
A rare birthmark
Meet the story of Celine Casey and her two-year-old daughter, Vienna Shaw, who was born with a congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN) on her forehead, an uncommon birthmark that affects only one out of every 20,000 newborns. When finding out about the birthmark, Celine was filled with concern, feeling as though she might have somehow made a mistake during her pregnancy, with no understanding of what the birthmark would mean for her daughter. What she did know was that she wanted it eliminated, aiming for her daughter to grow up without feeling different.
Although the birthmark held no implications for Brookshaw’s physical well-being, Casey understood the potential impact it could have on her mental well-being as she matured and encountered other children who might be inquisitive about her condition. Celine mentioned that at certain points, the family used to conceal Vienna’s birthmark by covering her face, “We went out daily with her, and we got a few stares.”
But the surgery wasn’t easy to achieve.
When they approached the NHS for assistance, the family was met with discouraging feedback. Physicians couldn’t proceed with the operation to eliminate the mark as it would qualify as a cosmetic procedure.
But the parents didn’t see it like that. They were deeply afraid of other kids teasing her, impacting her mental health from a young age. Casey was also concerned that if they didn’t remove the birthmark, her daughter might come to resent her and her partner.
The parents decided to act on their own and raise the necessary money privately. After organizing crowdfunding, they raised $52,000 in 24 hours. However, hospital costs increased in 2020, and they needed to raise an additional US$27,000. With a new funding request, they finally met their goal.
They faced hard times with doctors.
A disagreement between the medical team and the parents has caused a rift in opinions. Vienna’s parents sought to have the mark removed through surgery, but the surgeon declined to perform the procedure. The surgeon’s position is based on the belief that only the child, once she is of age, should be the one to make such a decision.
Following the emergence of this controversy, Daniel Brookshaw, Vienna’s father, expressed his disappointment with the doctor’s opinion. The doctor also mentioned consulting with a dermatologist who agreed with the surgeon, citing that the mark doesn’t threaten Vienna’s health, nor is it cancerous.
But the surgery was successfully done.
Now, Vienna is two years old, and her doctors have successfully eliminated her birthmark, leaving only a faint scar between her eyebrows. Casey frequently provides updates on little Shaw’s scar and recovery process on her social media, with followers commenting on how beautiful her little girl appears.
Casey revealed that even though the birthmark had been eradicated, they still had to travel between cities to evaluate the healing of her scar and determine whether she would require any further procedures beyond the three she had already undergone. Shaw is now living the life of a typical two-year-old.
The case of Vienna and her birthmark sheds light on the intricate relationship between parental advocacy and a child’s autonomy in medical matters. While her parents wanted to ensure her social acceptance and well-being, the medical professionals emphasized the need to respect Vienna’s future autonomy in her body. The girl’s story serves as a reminder of the complex ethical considerations that appear when navigating the boundaries of parental authority and individual autonomy, reminding broader reflections on the rights of minors within the medical sphere.