The moving snapshot of a young child with a pink birthmark captured the attention of online visitors

Jean Lambert had a fleeting opportunity to cradle her premature baby daughter in a hospital bed before medical professionals whisked her away. Having personally endured the challenges of a retained placenta, the new mom had to endure an excruciating wait of four or five hours before she could reunite with little Chloe again.

And as soon as she did, she was faced with the devastating sight of her precious daughter hooked up to machines in intensive care.

So when she and her husband Michael spotted a small ‘bruise’ on the right side of the youngster’s forehead, it was the least of their worries.

“We didn’t think much of it,” Jean told Mirror Online.

But over the next few weeks, as Chloe’s condition improved, the mark grew rapidly “like a strawberry” and took on a vivid red color.

As it turned out, it was actually a hemangioma.

Chloe’s hemangioma grew rapidly “like a strawberry” and turned a vivid red before becoming ulcerated.

The mark started “weighing down” the youngster’s eye.

Fast-forward to today and Chloe (pictured with mom Jean last summer) is a happy and healthy nine-year-old.

And in the following months, it grew more and more each day, eventually “weighing down” Chloe’s eye and becoming ulcerated.

Strangers would stare at the little girl in the street, while Jean and Michael had to be careful not to bang the area in case it bled.

“If it started to bleed, it would continue to bleed,” said Jean, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. “We had to be careful not to knock it.”

Told there were no treatment options available and the mark would likely disappear someday on its own, the couple didn’t know what to do.

But fast-forward to today and their lives – and Chloe’s – have completely changed, after she was accepted onto a trial for a new treatment.

Now aged nine, the brave youngster, who has been left with just a small scar, proudly pins her hair back instead of insisting on a fringe.

And she happily tells her pals: “I’m a birthmark warrior.”

Chloe is pictured at 10 days old – by which point, the hemangioma had started to become obvious.

Strangers used to stare at the little girl in the street, with young kids even trying to touch her forehead.

A scab developed on the hemangioma, which grew to the size of a 50p piece.

“Chloe’s so proud,” said Jean.

“As she looks back at photos [of her hemangioma] she’ll ask about it. If people ask questions she’s very quick to say, ‘I had a birthmark’.”

The little girl was born eight weeks early in August 2009.

“I had a very easy, straightforward pregnancy, everything went fine. I was getting up for work the morning my waters broke,” Jean said.

“She arrived very quickly at 32 weeks. It was a normal delivery, gas and air. They tried to stop the labor, but there was no stopping it!”

Doctors let the new mom have a quick cuddle before she was treated for a retained placenta and Chloe was raced to intensive care.

“It was four or five hours before I could actually see her,” Jean recalled.

“That was awful.”

It was around a week later that doctors told her and Michael that the ‘bruise’ on their daughter’s forehead was actually a strawberry hemangioma.

The couple were told it would soon start to change color and grow.

“The second week, we could really tell what they meant by the birthmark. It had turned a very vivid red,” said Jean.

By the time Chloe was allowed home from the hospital, several weeks after her birth, the mark had started to “grow like a strawberry”.

“We’d pre-warned people about her birthmark and sent photos. They were surprised – more so by how small she was,” said her mom.

“We were very much aware the birthmark was growing each day.”

A dermatologist said Chloe’s hemangioma would “eventually go away”, but strangers were already starting to stare at her in the street.

Mom Jean says her daughter is now “so proud” of her scar and birthmark journey.

The little girl was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital after a passing doctor saw her.

“She would be having people standing there, looking at her,” said Jean.

“By December, she started to get a little scab on the birthmark itself.

“We didn’t know what to do.”

Before long, the birthmark had grown to the size of a clenched fist.

“The scab on it was just bigger than a 50p piece,” she added.

One day, as Chloe’s parents removed some clothing from her, the scab also came off, leaving behind an “infected, pussy” area.

They returned to the hospital – where their luck changed.

“A passing doctor saw Chloe and interrupted our appointment to tell us of a ‘new’ treatment being trialed at Great Ormond Street Hospital [GOSH],” said Jean.

Chloe, pictured pre-surgery, now likes to wear her hair pinned back.

She is seen at eight months old after undergoing around two months of treatment.

The family was told the little girl would be a “prime candidate” for referral. And just weeks later, they were at the London hospital.

In subsequent weeks and months, Chloe’s hemangioma was treated with propranolol – which is traditionally used to treat high blood pressure.

The medicine, although not suitable for all birthmarks, or ‘hemangiomas’, can reduce the amount of blood flowing through them, GOSH says.

This can reduce the marks’ color and make them softer, while the treatment can also limit the growth of cells, making the marks shrink.

“It speeds up the shrinking process,” Jean explained.

She added: “Chloe was on the treatment for a year.

“At its biggest, her birthmark was really starting to weigh down her eye.

Chloe, who has a little brother Thomas, smiles from her hospital bed around the time of her final surgery.

At its biggest, her birthmark was starting to weigh down her eye.

“It almost looked like a lazy eye all the time. We’d be sat on the Tube and people would just stare. The young kids would want to touch it.

She added: “Once they ascertained it wasn’t growing anymore, they took us off the medication.”

Over the next few years, Chloe had annual checkups.

Eventually, she underwent three cosmetic surgeries which took her birthmark from a “circle” to an “egg” shape, then to a “slither”.

“We were ecstatic with the results,” said her mom.

“How the scar is now, it’s like she’s just had an accident.

“But banging her head is exceptionally painful for her.”

Chloe, seen as an infant, underwent three cosmetic surgeries which took her birthmark from a “circle” to an “egg” shape, then to a “slither”.

When she was younger, Chloe would ask her parents to cut in a fringe so it would cover her birthmark. Sometimes, she’d wear a hat.

“She was starting to become a bit more conscious,” said Jean.

“We’d try to tell her it’s unique, it’s what makes you special.”

But today, the little girl is “so proud” of her birthmark story.

“She likes to pin her hair back. She’s proud of her scar now. It shows the journey that she’s been on,” added her mom.

Chloe, her parents, and her little brother, Thomas, have been supported in their journey by the UK-based Birthmark Support Group.

Jean described the organization – which was set up by parents of children with vascular birthmarks – as an “absolute Godsend”.

“It’s for any type of birthmark, it doesn’t have to be a strawberry birthmark. There are so many different types,” she said.

Chloe, pictured with little Thomas, has been supported in her journey by the UK-based Birthmark Support Group.

“[It’s great] just to be able to contact other parents or get some advice.”

She added: “Being a first-time mom this was both the hardest and most lonely time of my life, or at least it could have been if it wasn’t for the help and support of the Birthmark Support Group.

“We were soon put into contact with this group while Chloe was still young and for the first time we were able to share and compare stories with other parents and children and suddenly the world did not feel so lonely.”

This year, the organization has been given one charity place for the London Marathon – and Jean has been chosen as the runner.

“I am overwhelmed and honored,” she said.

Determined to “give back” the support the group gave her family, she has set up a fundraising page to raise money ahead of the April 2019 event.

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