Venezuelan adolescent with six pound tumor-like growth on face to undergo surgery

(Miami, May 17, 2007) –  When he was only three years-old, Bladimir Gomez began to develop a lump on the right side of his face that throughout the years has become a six-pound-mass that has gradually deformed his facial features. He has a rare condition known as Craniofacial Fibrous Dysplasia, a localized disorder in which normal bone is replaced by abnormalfibrous tissue.

The adolescent has already undergone four surgeries in his native country of Venezuela. At the age of six, he had an operation to help him open up his right eye that was being constricted by the enlargement of the tumor-like growth. His second and third intervention involved surgically shaving off the fibrous tissue. During the fourth and last procedure, surgeons removed part of his jaw and replaced it with an implant of bone that was taken from one of his ribs.  After this operation, doctors told the teenager they were unable to help him any more and suggested he look for an alternative treatment elsewhere. Bladimir learned about the IKF through an American couple who founded Andean Aid, a US non-profit Christian organization that operates in Venezuela.  The organization helped Bladimir obtain all his necessary travel documents and airfare to Miami.

Bladimir has not only endured physical adversity but also emotional.  Growing up he spent most of his time at home because his travels to town invariably led to taunting from other children and curiosity about his appearance. “I ask for the support of the community to help me transform my life by giving me an opportunity to overcome this condition and be able to reach my goal of being a doctor,” said Bladimir. The teenager comes from a poor, hardworking family that lives on a farm in the state of Apure, in the southwestern part of the country. His mother, a housewife, and his father, a farmer, live with his six siblings. 

“Despite his hardships, Bladimir is a young man that has a positive outlook on life. He is like any other teenager that desires to play sports, date and spend time with his friends. He has struggled for many years to find a treatment for his condition and now the community has the opportunity to help make his lifelong wish a reality,” saidMaría Luisa Chea, executive director of the IKF.

Because the teenager is not a U.S. resident, the public hospital cannot use taxpayers’ money to pay for his treatment. Instead, it is being offered to the IKF at charitable rates. The IKF is a program of the Jackson Memorial Foundation that seeks to provide medical care to needy children from around the world who suffer from serious illnesses that cannot be treated in their home countries.

The International Kids Fund’s campaign on behalf of Bladimir was launched today during a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. Present were Bladimir; Dr. Jesús Gómez D.D.S., maxillofacial surgeon at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and María Luisa Chea.