By CLAIRE BATES
Millie can finally smile after becoming the first person in the UK to trial a miracle drug
A little girl whose birthmark was literally strangling her to death can finally smile after becoming the first person in the UK to trial a miracle drug.
Millie Field, three, was born with a small, blue mark on her face which doctors told her parents Michelle and Stuart was a bruise from a particularly speedy labour.
However, within a matter of days the mark had developed into an angry and ulcerated red growth which not only left Millie disfigured but was also forming a stranglehold on her windpipe, jaw and larynx.
As the birthmark, known as a hemangioma, continued to grow, Millie needed a tracheostomy just to breathe which left her unable to make a sound.
But now, Millie can speak and smile like a typical toddler after her parents took a gamble on a wonder drug.
Poorly: Millie aged five months with her father Stuart at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Her condition deteriorated until she couldn't feed or suck
Bank worker Michelle, 37, from Rochford in Essex, said: 'Millie is a little fighter. Right from the beginning she was not going to let this thing beat her and we are just so proud of everything she has had to overcome.
'The results of the drug were instant. We could see before our very eyes that the birthmark was changing colour and getting smaller over a period of days. Now she is doing remarkably well. It's completely changed her life.
'I am just so grateful for everything the doctors and nurses have done for us in allowing Millie to live a totally normal life, which at one point we feared would never be possible.'
Recovery: Millie started to improve after taking propanolol. However, her parents said other adults sometimes made unkind comments about her
Michelle, who has a son Ben, 15, had longed for another child with Stuart, a fraud investigator when, after months of fertility treatment she eventually fell pregnant with Millie.
While the pregnancy had been completely normal, Millie came into the world after just a 1.5-hour labour and when she was born Michelle noticed a bluish mark on her face along her jawline.
Michelle said: 'The nurses told me it was just a bruise from the fast delivery and told us it would go away eventually.'
Beginning: The red mark as it started to form when Millie was just a few weeks old
But just five days after she was born, Millie's 'bruise' changed colour from blue to a dark, blood red and started to change shape.
Midwives and health visitors who came to inspect Millie did not seem overly concerned and told her the redness was possibly a Port Wine Stain birthmark.
Nevertheless, Michelle decided to do some research into birthmarks online and found the Birthmark Support Group who gave her a telephone number for a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital's dermatology unit.
'I do sometimes worry about how people will react to her when she starts school as my instinct is to protect her. Sometimes even adults stare and say thoughtless things like, 'Oh, your daughter has chocolate on her face'.
'I can't understand why some people feel the need to pass comment on what she looks like.
'As far as I'm concerned she is beautiful and we are just glad she has been given the chance to live her life like any other little girl because at one time we weren't sure any of this would be possible.'
For more information about birthmarks, contact The Birthmark Support Group at www.birthmarksupportgroup.org.uk or by calling 0845 045 4700