Mother pursues surgery for toddler with large malformation

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CAMERON, Mo. -- A toddler from Cameron was born with something unusual on her leg that's continued to grow. Now her mother believes surgery is the only remaining option.

After Athelia James was delivered by c-section, the medical team delivered some unexpected news.

"They said, 'Don't worry, she's healthy, she's okay, but there's something on her leg'," recalled her mother, Jessica Blanton-Latta.

It was a large vascular malformation. The cluster of deformed blood vessels has only grown as Athelia has grown. Now 20-months old, her left leg at the knee is at least three times larger than her right.

"She can't wear jeans anymore because they don't fit. They don't pull up over her leg," said Blanton-Latta.

But that is the least of the mom's worries now that Athelia is an active toddler.

"She's trying to climb up and get down and that's a huge worry for me if she ends up cutting her leg completely open."

Athelia is on clotting medicine to reduce the bleeding risk. She had injections aimed at collapsing the vessels, but they didn't help. Doctors at Children's Mercy Hospital referred them to Boston Children's Hospital, but Blanton-Latta went online and says she found what she believes is the answer.

"There's no other choice. It's either remove it or watch it continuously grow."

A doctor at the Vascular Birthmark Institute in New York City says he can remove the malformation and reconstruct the knee tissue. Blanton-Latta doesn't know yet if Athelia's insurer, Missouri Medicaid, will pay for the surgery since it will be done out of state. She may also be able to get help from a foundation. She says regardless, they'll proceed.

"Just so she can have a normal life."

The surgery is scheduled for May. For more on Athelia's story, go to



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