Toddler almost dies after rare birthmark inside her throat blocked her airway

A toddler who nearly died when a birthmark started restricting her airway is now making an amazing recovery.

Mia Rogers was taken to hospital at just five weeks old after her parents noticed she was making a high-pitched wheezing sound while breathing.

When they arrived at the hospital in May last year, Mia was taken to the paediatric intensive care unit and spent seven days on a ventilator before she went into surgery. Cameras were then put down her throat to find out what was obstructing her airways.

‘After the team saw Mia, they took the decision to intubate her and put her on mechanical ventilation to help with her breathing so it would be safe to take her back to London,’ says mum Sophie Collins, 32.

‘It was so scary. As they did not know what was in her airway, the team had to prepare us that she could potentially die.

‘The operation was about three-and-a-half hours. The wait was excruciating but the procedure was successful and after a few more days in hospital, we were able to take Mia home.’

After having three of these procedures, medics discovered Mia had a rare condition called a subglottic haemangioma – a birthmark growing in her throat that prevented her from breathing properly.

A haemangioma is a collection of small blood vessels that occur under the skin and can sometimes be called ‘strawberry marks’.

A subglottic haemangioma is similar and can occur in the air passage beneath the vocal cords.

She had been taken to Evelina London Children’s Hospital by the South Thames Retrieval Service under a blue light after her condition had deteriorated at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent.

Doctors treating Mia said they usually only have around two cases of this condition a year and the rate it grew in Mia’s case was also very uncommon.

The sick little girl was immediately started on medication to reduce the size of the mass, and after 13 days she was finally allowed back to her home in St Mary’s Island in Chatham, Kent.

But a few months later in October, Mia started to deteriorate. Doctors found the haemangioma had not fully responded to the beta blockers and had continued to grow – meaning the tot would need an operation.

Ten days later Mia underwent the procedure, this time to remove a large part of the mass blocking her airways, again by going down her throat.

Since the operation, the now one-year-old has gone from strength to strength.

Sophie adds: ‘Mia is so much better in herself now. She is just so lovable and is always up for a cuddle. She also loves playing with her big sister Isla.

‘Because of the Covid restrictions, Jon (Mia’s dad) could not stay with me. I had a lot of questions but the staff were so brilliant and explained everything to me calmly and clearly.

‘They helped me to get some accommodation to stay on site, first at Evelina London, then at Ronald McDonald House close by.’

Mia is still under the care of Evelina London that regularly checks on her progress, as it is possible for the haemangioma to grow again until it naturally shrinks away around the age of 18 months.

The family has since raised more than £5,800 to thank staff for saving their daughter’s life.

Exactly a year after she was taken to hospital – on May 8 – dad Jon Rogers ran the route the ambulance took between Medway and Evelina, part of Guy’s and St Thomas near Waterloo in central London.

The 34-year-old was joined by friends and family at various points throughout the 34-mile trek and fiancée Sophie ran alongside him for the first and last five miles.

He completed the challenge – which was almost six miles further than a marathon – in six hours and five minutes.

Sophie says: ‘The second that the Evelina London team saw Mia, we knew we were in safe hands. They gave me so much support and care at a time when I needed it most. Without them, Mia could have died.’

Care home manager Jon adds: ‘The ear, nose and throat team who care for Mia are superb and have gone above and beyond on so many occasions and we will be forever grateful for everything they have done for us.

‘The run was tough both physically and mentally, however the motivation from friends and family on the day was incredible, all I needed to do was put one foot in front of the other. I cannot thank Evelina London enough.’

The consultant who treated Mia and covers the South East, usually only has two cases per year and said the rate it grew in Mia’s case was also very uncommon.

‘I am very heartened to see Mia thriving following her challenging start in life,’ says Dr Victoria Possamai, consultant children’s ear, nose and throat surgeon. ‘It continues to be a privilege to look after her in partnership with her parents.

‘I would like to say a huge thank you to them both, and to everyone who took part in their run, for fundraising for Evelina London.’

To donate to Mia’s cause, visit the family’s JustGiving page.

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