News 14: Man hopes story informs others with impeding birthmarks
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For 35 years, a vascular lesion known as a port-wine stain birthmark has been growing out of control on Clint Ramie’s face. In February, Dr. Milton Waner, a world-renowned expert at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, began the first in a series of procedures to treat it.
"A laser will take care of the surface," Waner says. "It takes care of the discoloration. But what Clint has is soft tissue overgrowth and it has caused distortion in his facial features. Basically what I am going to do is removing the overgrown tissue and re-contouring the features so he has symmetry again."
The task of removing the birthmark is a tall order that’s now taken three surgeries to take Clint from a hopeful before to an after with a noticeable difference. The difference is in both his appearance and attitude.
"This is a big part of me," he says. "This is a big opportunity to move forward and just to feel a sense of normalcy."
His wife Gabriela says family life has also changed for the better.
"Our relationship has gotten closer," she says. "He’s been out there wanting to go out with me more. He’s never really done that. He’s always like 'Oh, let’s stay in.' But now it’s like 'Hey, let’s go out!' I always understood why he didn’t want to."
While there has been an improvement in Ramie’s appearance, Waner says his case has proven to be more complex and there are still more surgeries and procedures ahead to get Clint to 100 percent of where they’d like him to be. Part of that complexity comes with a lifetime of not knowing where or how to access resources.
"Some folks say 'Why’d you wait so long?" Ramie says. "It’s all about information."
"There are lots of people that don’t know anything can be done for that but there is," Waner says. "There’s a lot we can do. And there are lots of children who are born with hemangiomas and vascular birthmarks. In most cases, the sooner we get them the better it is. Early treatment is clearly the way to go."
Ramie is hoping families who haven’t been reached by that message see his story so they don’t have to have the same experience.