This is the dramatic moment a Florida mom sees her baby’s ‘Batman mask’ birth mark is vanishing after she flew half way round the world in search of a pioneering Russian cure for her daughter.
Carol Fenner, 36, holds her child Luna as surgeon Dr Pavel Popov removed a bandage on her forehead in our exclusive video.
This was the first part of her face to be treated by photodynamic therapy and the area is cleared of the invasive nevus mark.
Before and after pictures show the remarkable difference and – unlike alternative invasive US treatments – the procedure has been painless for Luna.
‘This result on Luna’s forehead is amazing and I am now 100 per cent sure I was right to fly to Russia with my girl,’ she told DailyMail.com
Carol Fenner, 36, holds her child Luna after surgeon Dr Pavel Popov removed a bandage on her forehead. This was the first part of her face to be treated by photodynamic therapy and the area is cleared of the invasive nevus mark
Before the surgery, Luna’s Batman mark extended onto thr right side of her forehead. After the pioneering procedure, Luna’s birthmark is gone from her upper forehead – only pink skin and small crusts are still there but will soon fall off
‘This is the best possible Christmas present for our family – and it has come early thanks to Dr Popov.
‘It makes us feel the miracle of Christmas.’
Carol and her eight month old daughter will now fly home to the US for a festive season reunion with her husband Thiago Tavares, 32, before returning for further treatment starting in January to remove the rest of the mark.
Luna was born with congenital melanocytic naevus, a skin condition that produces abnormally dark blemishes, usually across the face.
The treatment is said to work by doctors injecting an unnamed drug into a patient, which then accumulates in the birthmark.
This causes the tissue to die, with a crust forming over the skin. Beneath the crust, new, healthy skin grows. This is done alongside laser surgery, which helps to ‘clean up’ the edges and reduce pigmentation.
After the pioneering procedure only pink skin and small crusts are still there but will soon fall off.
The entire $140,000 treatment for which she is raising funds on GoFundMe will take a year and a half in Russian city Krasnodar but it compares with surgery in the US that would have left her face badly scarred.
The brave mother was warned she was ‘crazy’ for flying to Russia for a treatment that is unavailable in the US, but admits to anxiety over her decision but now feels she is on the right path.
But as he took off the bandages after just two months in Russia, Dr Popov said: ‘Here we already see that nevus (on the forehead) is completely gone.
‘Pink skin. Small crusts are still here, they will soon fall off…
‘We thought that healing would take a bit longer.
‘We are now ready to let Carol go home a month ahead of schedule.’
He predicted that Luna’s skin in the area cleared of the birthmark would become ‘pretty much…natural’.
‘We expected to have good results,’ he said.
‘But what we’ve seen exceeds our expectations.’
Carol Fenner flew with her seven-month-old daughter Luna from Florida to Russia in September to have the baby’s ‘Batman mask’ birthmark treated. Luna was born with congenital melanocytic naevus, a skin condition that produces abnormally dark blemishes, usually across the face. Pictured: Luna after a treatment to remove the birthmark from around her eyes and forehead
Luna with her mother Carolina and Dr Pavel Popov at his clinic in Krasnodar, Russia. Dr Popov’s ‘technology is non-invasive’, treating oncological diseases with laser radiation and involves administering photosensitizer in the patients’s body
The 36-year-old Brazilian native gave DailyMail.com exclusive access to Luna’s treatment, which will remove the birthmark without scars
Carol said she already sees positive results after two treatment sessions, saying: ‘There is no nevus at all where he did it. Now I’m 100 percent confident and sure it will work. I’m in the right place and right country, (and with the) right doctor’
Before she left the US a cruel woman in a Florida church branded her lovable daughter a ‘monster’, an insult that prompted Carol to put her daughter through surgery, setting her on a path that took her to Russia for the first time.
Carol told us after seeing her daughter’s clear forehead: ‘When i decided to come few months ago everybody called me crazy.
WHAT IS A CONGENITAL MELANOCYTIC NAEVUS?
Around one per cent of babies are born with a CMN. However, they are often much smaller. In some cases, they can be hairy.
CMNs are sometimes called ‘brown birthmarks’ by medics. They get bigger as children age.
They don’t usually cause any complications but they can be itchy. There is a slight risk of melanoma, thought people with bigger CMNs face the highest risk – but it is still low.
Dr Adil Sheraz, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, told MailOnline: ‘The word melanocytic refers to being composed of melanocytes – these are cells that produce pigment or colour.
‘A naevus is another word for a mole. A mole that is present form birth is known as a congenital melanocytic naevus (or birthmark).’
Treatment is usually surgery to remove the blemish.
Full-thickness grafts may be required for large growths.
If surgery is not possible due to the size, location or thickness of the blemish, laser therapy may help to reduce pigmentation and make it less hairy.
Dermabrasion may also be used. This involves resurfacing the skin so it grows back smoother.
‘But something in my head was telling me I should try.
‘People say mothers feel something, I feel it’s true.
‘I knew I needed to try and come.
‘I don’t know why, I just decided to give it a try.’
Dr Popov convinced her online that he could cure her child without putting her through debilitating agony.
‘I wanted to avoid the aggressive surgeries that I was seeing with the other doctors in the US,’ she said.
She admitted: ‘I was trying to trust him because he was my only choice.’
She hoped and prayed it was the ‘right choice’ for Luna.
‘Her recovery was amazing. So I’m really grateful.
‘She didnt feel pain. She didn’t take pain medicines….
‘Now seeing the results – I was shocked for the first time because the nevus is gone. Amazing.’
And this is not the ‘final result’.
Over the coming months the learned skin will recover far more.
‘The doctor is being amazing. He said she is recovering just perfect.’
She said: ‘Now comparing to Carol a few months ago I’m a completely different person.’
She knows it is now possible to remove the birth mark that had seemed impossible just a few months ago.
Dr Popov said: ‘I’m happy we started her treatment when Luna was at an early age.
‘her skin will recover completely.
‘Luna might have a different shade of skin on the treated areas – but not necessarily.
‘But she will avoid cancer.
‘And the quality of her skin will absolutely be natural.’
Dr Popov is a cancer specialist who has been ‘working in photodynamic therapy for over 20 years’.
Carol and her husband Thiago Tavares, 32, had tried everything to find affordable treatment in the United States, but was told it would cost almost $500,000 – an unaffordable sum – and wouldn’t be covered by insurance
Luna is clear of cancer but the technique can also be used for patients with her condition, known as melanocytic nevus.
He said: ‘I’ve been working in photodynamic therapy for over 20 years.
‘It is an innovative way to treat oncological diseases with the use of laser radiation.
‘The technology itself involves administering photo-sensitiser in the patients’s body.
‘This substance is a target for laser radiation, and cancer cells die in interaction between this substance and laser radiation.
‘Photodynamic therapy can be used in different modes and it can be used to treat a wide range of illnesses/diseases, including giant melanocytic nevus.’
He took the initiative to contact Carol after seeing a story about Luna in his news feed.