By Jessica Haynes
Abigail Faith, also known as Smiley Bug, was born on May 7, 2012 to proud parents, Travis and Jessica Haynes. She was welcomed home by her three siblings, Alayna, Brantly, and Meghan.
When Abigail was born, she had what appeared to be a bruise on her left cheek. When the so-called bruise did not subside, her pediatrician deemed it a birthmark. When Abigail was two months old, a strawberry hemangioma (a non-progressive tumor composed of dilated blood vessels) appeared on the back of her head. As a precaution, Abigail’s pediatrician sent her to a pediatric dermatologist to confirm that nothing more serious was causing these two birthmarks. The Haynes took their daughter to Emory in Atlanta, GA, where they were told there was no need for concern, that both marks were simple hemangiomas that would not get any larger and eventually dissipate on their own.
In February of 2013, approximately 7 months later, the Haynes noticed that the “birthmark” on Abigail’s cheek was not only expanding, but was also beginning to protrude on the inside of her cheek, into her mouth. Abigail began to have a difficult time eating, pulling at her cheek in obvious discomfort and crying due to pain. Clearly concerned, Jessica contacted the dermatologist at Emory, at which time an MRI was ordered. After waiting two weeks, the Haynes were contacted by Emory and told that after meeting with a several doctors, there was a unanimous agreement that Abigail had what was known as Venous Malformations. The MRI yielded three Venous Malformations, in her cheek, in her lip, and in her tongue. Venous Malformations are made up of a plexus of veins (a network of blood vessels that are dilated and thin due to the lack of smooth muscle tissue). They are a form of benign tumors, causing blood flow to be slowed, having no growth cycle and then regressing, but instead continue to grow slowly throughout life, unless they are removed in full. Venous Malformations undergo a rapid growth phase during puberty.
Being that Abigail’s Venous Malformation are located in and around her mouth, they could easily cause issues with her vision, speech, ability to eat, and more importantly, her ability to breathe. They also have the potential to disfigure her. The team at Emory were not equipped with all the possible resources to fully help Abigail. Therefore, the Haynes began a search for the best possible treatment for Abigail.
Abigail began treatment on May 8, 2013, the day after her first birthday. Unfortunately the initial treatments received did more harm than good. After doing research and speaking with several specialists around the globe, the Haynes were blessed to find Dr. Wayne Yakes in Denver, CO. Dr. Yakes injects ethanol into the affected veins, which in turn destroys the veins. While there is no cure for Venous Malformations, the Haynes believe they have found the closest thing to a cure for Abigail’s disease. Travel is expensive and insurance does not cover all medical expenses associated with the necessary procedures. With Abigail receiving treatments every 4 weeks, Dr. Yakes believes she has at least 24 months left before she can go to yearly monitoring through MRI’s and occasional treatments if necessary. To date, Abigail has developed ten Venous Malformations and has undergone over a dozen lifesaving procedures. Each trip to Denver costs approximately $2,000 in addition to medical expenses incurred by these procedures.
Since Abigail’s Venous Malformations continue to spread rapidly, the Haynes, their families, friends, various organizations/companies/newspapers/websites, and complete strangers will continue to fight for Abigail to receive her treatments, aid the family financially, and also raise awareness for the various types of vascular malformations as a whole. Even with treatment, Abigail will be fighting this battle for the rest of her life, and it is imperative that treatments continue.
Above all, God has a plan for Abigail. We will continue to listen to His guidance and push forward. The Haynes family is extremely humbled by the perpetual outpouring of support from every direction and will never be able to express in words what YOU all have done for Smiley Bug and her family. They are eternally grateful for YOUR generosity.