My ‘Ninja Turtle baby’ boy was born with a shell — he’s my superhero

Baby James’ parents, Kaitlyn and Tim McCallum, were first concerned when they saw a strange mark on their son’s back. James had a little birthmark that was covered in scabs and eventually developed to be a massive lump that covered much of his back and looked like a big mole. Fearing for the health of their kid, the McCallums started a months-long path of tests and doubt.

“At that point, the doctors weren’t really sure what it was,” Kaitlyn recounted. She went on, “It seemed like it was growing,” comparing the lump to a heavy turtle shell as it grew “fattier and more lumpy” over time.

James was diagnosed with a nevus, but because of its rapid growth and possibility for internal issues, surgery was required. James had surgery at the age of two and a half months to check for internal growth, and happily the results were negative.

James’ quality of life dramatically improved after the successful surgery, and his parents noticed a noticeable improvement. Nevertheless, the McCallums sought advice and assistance from a Facebook forum for people with similar illnesses because they were concerned that the nevus might reappear.

Their search for a successful course of action brought them to a Chicago specialist, where they made the decision to go ahead with tissue expansion, a cutting-edge technique that involves surgically growing “good” skin to replace the damaged area. Beginning in September 2022, James has demonstrated significant progress and greater comfort during the process, which has shown promise.

“The expanders are placed under the skin by the doctor, and then we injected them with saline once a week and it slowly expands the good skin which replaces the nevus,” Kaitlyn described the process.

James’ parents are hopeful about his future because of his strong response to the treatment. “He’s so much happier and more comfortable,” Kaitlyn said, anticipating that James would not have nevus by summer.

The McCallums’ story gives encouragement to families dealing with similar issues by highlighting the value of tenacity and creativity in treating uncommon medical disorders.

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