Rochester boy has life-changing surgery in NYC, ready for back to school

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Rochester boy is now ready to tackle the new school year, thanks to a life-altering surgery performed in New York City.

Julius Pacheco, 6, had an unusual growth on his lip that left the door open to teasing—and prevented him from participating in activities at school. His parents were told that the growth was a type of birthmark, a sort of benign tumor that would go away with time.

Julius’ mother, Angela Lugo says that never happened. “Hormones apparently would have caused it to massively grow,” Angela said. “Nobody really tried to figure it out.”

That left the family to search outside of Rochester for solutions. Dr. Gregory Levitin with the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai managed to diagnose the growth. “It was actually a type of vascular malformation called a ‘venous malformation,” Levitin said.

It’s a painful condition that grows and grows. If someone with this diagnosis were to fall and cut open the area, they could in theory bleed to death. It could also grow to clog airway paths. “Imagine that in the airway!” Levitin said. “It can continue all the way into the tongue and the airway. Those are really challenging cases.”

Levitin believes conditions like this can easily lead to social issues in the classroom. At school, many activities were a no-go for Julius. “I think that now he has this thing off, he’s going to be even more confident,” he said.

Julius’ father Jeremiah Pacheco says that in just two days, his boy was back to normal. “The biggest thing for me was his recovery,” Jeremiah said. “Everything was taken care of, and that was just such a relief.”

Both parents said Julius’ friends might not recognize him when he goes back to school. But Julius says everyone will. His lip never defined who he was.

“The thing that they know about me and recognize me from is my heart.”

Julius Pacheco

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