6-month-old baby to undergo surgery for birthmark that has put her eyesight at risk

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Friday, August 12, 2022
Exclusive: 6-month-old to undergo eye surgery for dangerous birthmark
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A 6-month-old baby is undergoing urgent surgery Friday due to a vascular birthmark that has put her eyesight at risk. CeFaan Kim has the exclusive story.

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A 6-month-old baby is undergoing urgent surgery Friday due to a vascular birthmark that has put her eyesight at risk.

Being a parent to a newborn is exhausting, but for Deanna Vaivao, it has been even more challenging than for the average mom.

"It's been doctor's appointments week after week because we were seeing three different doctors just to see what it was," mother Deanna Vaivao said.

Her baby girl, Analeigha Branford, is dealing with a rare condition on her right eyelid.

It's a condition so rare, only a tenth of 1% of babies experience what the little 6-month-old is dealing with.

The care that Branford needs is urgent.

"They said she could lose her eyesight if it wasn't taken care of pretty soon and so that scared me," Vaivao said.

The toddler's mom and dad are in New York from Oregon for surgery Friday, to be performed by two world-renown surgeons, doctors Teresa O and Milton Waner.

"If you take a child and you tape the eye shut at an early age that child will go blind because the tract between, or the connection between the eye and the brain is not formed at birth, or is not fully formed at birth. It develops after birth," Waner said.

A surgery like this is not only extremely difficult but also very expensive.

"Traditionally hemangiomas we're just left alone," O said. "The idea was, don't worry they'll go away and in fact, I just had another child today where the pediatrician said don't worry it'll go away and it became very large. So I think it's really important to educate, to get parents in sooner to get it evaluated."

For Branford, the surgery will be free. Her hospital fees will be waived by the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, and other costs will be covered by the Vascular Birthmark Institute which was founded by Dr. Waner and the Little Baby Face Foundation.

"This is why we went into medicine to be able to help," Waner said.

Branford's parents are very grateful.

"I'm very nervous. I cried on my way here, to be honest," Vaivao said.

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Anthony Johnson reports from the turnpike's Thomas Edison service area in Woodbridge.


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