A little girl who was born with a benign cysts on her eye is often asked by strangers what’s wrong with her as she cries tears of blood.
Millie Brown, 22-months, from Dunstable in Bedfordshire was born with a swollen eyebrow and later diagnosed with lymphatic malformation, a benign tumour made up of fluid-filled cyst.
Doctors told her parents Nina Brown, 30, and husband Alex, 40, that the cyst wouldn’t affect Millie’s vision and that treatment to remove the cyst would be considered when Millie turned two.
A little girl who was born with a benign cysts on her eye is often asked by strangers what’s wrong with her as she cries tears of blood. Millie Brown, 22-months, from Dunstable in Bedfordshire was born with a swollen eyebrow and later diagnosed with lymphatic malformation, a benign tumour made up of fluid-filled cyst
Doctors told her parents Nina Brown, 30, and husband Alex, 40, (pictured with Millie and son Isaac) that the cyst wouldn’t affect Millie’s vision and that treatment to remove the cyst would be considered when Millie turned two.
But in May 2020 her eye started to bleed and obscure her vision.
‘We first found out about Millie’s malformation when she was born – my husband noticed her swollen eyebrow and told the midwives,’ Nina said.
WHAT IS A LYMPHATIC MALFORMATION?
Lymphatic malformations, sometimes referred to as cystic hygromas, are a collection of small cysts.
The cysts are filled with a clear fluid similar to the fluid in a blister.
The cysts have no purpose and can cause problems. The walls of the cysts are quite thin and contain little blood vessels.
Cystic hygromas most commonly form on the neck and armpits.
They occur when the lymph vessels fail to form correctly during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Due to them occurring so early on in pregnancies, they cannot be prevented.
Cystic hygromas can be detected during pregnancy scans.
Most are visible during birth or early infancy and appear as painless, translucent, soft lumps.
Treatment is not always required but may involve surgical removal or injection sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy causes an inflammatory reaction that makes cystic hygromas shrink.
Cosmetic surgery may be performed in later life to reduce scarring.
They affect up to one per cent of newborns in the UK. Their US prevalence is unknown.
Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital
‘Two different paediatricians said that it was just swelling from how she had been positioned in my womb and that it would go down after a few weeks.
‘It didn’t so our local hospital referred us to Great Ormond Street and an MRI scan confirmed it was a lymphatic malformation.
‘We were told it wouldn’t affect her vision and that treatment would be considered when she reached the age of two.
Millie started treatment at Great Ormond Street in July and underwent a procedure called sclerotherapy that involves injecting medicine into blood or lymph vessels causing them to shrink.
After the first round of sclerotherapy, Millie developed swelling behind her eye that pushed it from its socket and made her vomit from the pain.
‘In May, her eye started bleeding – it was like she was crying blood. We were really concerned as it was so unnatural, and we had no idea if that was normal for her condition,’ Nina added.
Millie was examined at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and then referred back to Great Ormond Street again.
‘The doctors decided to begin treatment early because it was now impacting her vision,’ Nina said.
‘She began sclerotherapy in July. We were extremely nervous because she had to be put under general anaesthetic.
‘After her first treatment, she was very bruised and swollen. She suffered a bleed behind her eye four days after the surgery which caused her eyeball to be pushed from its socket.
‘It was awful – the pressure and pain caused Millie to vomit and she had a big black eye after the treatment.
‘She then spent three more days in our local hospital on steroids and morphine before finally coming home.
‘The treatment continued six weeks later with the next round of sclerotherapy, and this was harder as she’d had such an awful experience the last time.
‘We questioned whether or not we were doing the right thing but ultimately we went with the doctors’ advice to go ahead as it would be best for Millie in the long run.’
However, Millie has since had two more treatments, each spaced six weeks apart, and the cysts behind her eye have almost disappeared.
Millie started treatment at Great Ormond Street in July and underwent a procedure called sclerotherapy that involves injecting medicine into blood or lymph vessels causing them to shrink. After the first round of sclerotherapy, Millie developed swelling behind her eye that pushed it from its socket and made her vomit from the pain.
Millie’s brother Isaac (left) stuck up for her in the park when children commented on her eye. Pictured L-R: Issac, Alex, Nina and Millie
But doctors have warned they may return in the future as they could be triggered with hormonal changes such as puberty or pregnancy.
The family have been approached by adults and children that have asked about Millie’s ‘bendy eye’, which they finds hard to deal with.
Nina contacted a charity, Changing Faces, to get advice on how to deal with the comments,.
Millie has had three rounds of treatment to shrink the cysts. She is pictured in hospital during a treatment
Millie is pictured with her parents and older brother, Isaac. Mum Nina has set up a Instagram to help raise awareness o
Mum Nina now shares Millie’s journey on social media in a bid to raise awareness and meet other people suffering from lymphatic malformations.
Her doctors are so pleased with her progress after three rounds of treatment, they believe she won’t need any further treatment for the foreseeable future.
‘Social media has been an amazing support for us, and we’ve been able to connect with so many other families affected by lymphatic malformations,’ she said.
Millie’s doctors are confident she won’t need further treatment for the foreseeable future, but hormonal changes such as pregnancy or puberty can change them
Isaac , pictured with Millie, often stick up for his sister and told a boy he was playing with that he was being unkind when he made a cruel comment
Nina says her family are worried about the future and people being cruel to Millie, but they are determined to raise her confident regardless
‘Online, we always get lovely comments from other people and share experiences, but in the street, people ask us what has happened to her.
‘Adults assume she has fallen over but children will ask why she has a bendy eye.
‘We were at the park in August and a little boy was playing with my son four-year-old son Isaac, and he said he didn’t like Millie’s eye and that it looked funny.
‘Isaac told him he was being unkind – he didn’t know I was nearby and could hear, but I was so proud of him for sticking up for his sister.’
‘We were worried about what this all meant for her future and what other children might say when she goes to school, but we are determined to raise Millie to be confident and love herself regardless.’