A mother, who was relieved, recently recounted the touching moment when her baby girl said goodbye to a birthmark on her forehead. However, she initially encountered criticism from medical authorities.
A rare birthmark
Introducing the tale of Celine Casey and her two-year-old daughter, Vienna Shaw, who entered the world with a congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN) on her forehead. This unique birthmark is a rarity, affecting only one in every 20,000 newborns. Upon discovering the birthmark, Celine was overcome with worry, fearing she may have made a mistake during her pregnancy and uncertain about its implications for her daughter. What she was certain of, however, was her desire to have it removed, aspiring for her daughter to grow up without experiencing a sense of being distinct.
While the birthmark posed no physical health concerns for Brookshaw, Casey recognized the potential influence it could have on her emotional well-being as she grew older and interacted with other children who might be curious about her condition. Celine noted that there were times when the family would hide Vienna’s birthmark by covering her face, saying, “We used to go out with her every day, and we received a few curious looks.”
But the surgery wasn’t easy to achieve
Upon seeking help from the NHS, the family received disheartening news. Doctors explained that they couldn’t go ahead with the procedure to remove the birthmark, as it would be considered a cosmetic operation.
However, the parents held a different perspective. They harbored a profound fear of potential teasing from other children, recognizing the potential impact on their daughter’s mental well-being from an early age. Casey was also worried that if they didn’t address the birthmark, her daughter might grow to resent both her and her partner.
Faced with the NHS’s reluctance, the parents took matters into their own hands and decided to raise the required funds privately. Through a crowdfunding campaign, they managed to gather $52,000 within 24 hours. However, due to rising hospital costs in 2020, they found themselves in need of an additional $27,000. They launched a new funding appeal and ultimately reached their target.
They faced hard times with doctors
A difference of opinion between the medical team and Vienna’s parents has led to a discord. While the parents were inclined towards surgical removal of the birthmark, the surgeon declined to proceed. The surgeon’s stance is rooted in the belief that it should ultimately be the child, once she reaches an appropriate age, who makes the decision.
In light of this controversy, Daniel Brookshaw, Vienna’s father, voiced his disappointment with the doctor’s viewpoint. The doctor also mentioned seeking advice from a dermatologist who concurred with the surgeon, emphasizing that the birthmark does not pose a threat to Vienna’s health and is non-cancerous.
But the surgery was successfully done
At the age of two, Vienna has undergone a successful procedure to remove her birthmark, leaving behind only a subtle scar between her eyebrows. Casey regularly shares updates on Shaw’s scar and recovery progress on her social media platforms, with followers commenting on how lovely her little girl looks.
Casey explained that despite the birthmark being removed, they still had to make trips between cities for assessments on the scar’s healing and to ascertain if any additional procedures beyond the three she had already undergone would be necessary. Shaw is now enjoying the life of a typical two-year-old.
Vienna’s experience with her birthmark highlights the nuanced interplay between parental advocacy and a child’s autonomy in medical decisions. While her parents aimed to secure her social acceptance and overall well-being, medical experts underscored the importance of honoring Vienna’s future autonomy over her own body. This narrative underscores the intricate ethical deliberations that arise when balancing parental authority with individual autonomy, prompting broader contemplation on the rights of minors in the medical domain.