An Ohio toddler whose three-year fight against an abnormally large birth mark that caused her heart to slow and her blood pressure to drop is improving after surgeons successfully operated on the mass, called a hemangioma, in December.

Brianna Brewer’s recovery is in large part thanks to her mother, Holliana Lockhart, who haphazardly posted about her daughter’s condition on Facebook, and Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, president and founder of the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation (VBF), who took notice. Brianna’s struggle began when she was only 2 weeks old, at which point Lockhart noticed a birthmark developing inside her daughter’s mouth.

Two weeks later, doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus diagnosed Brianna with an Infantile Hemangioma and placed her on propranolol to halt the mark’s growth. Lockhart and her husband, Robert, had been petitioning for their daughter to undergo surgery to remove the hemangioma, but doctors resisted due to Brianna’s age and the delicate nature of hemangiomas.

According to VBF, about 30 percent of hemangiomas are visible at birth, while the remaining 70 percent present one to four weeks afterward. About 83 percent of these birthmarks appear on the head and neck area, with the average growth period of up to 18 months. According to VBF, regression of hemangiomas, a process known as involution, can take between three to 10 years.

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