When Sloan McGillis was born in 2015, Joe and Jennifer McGillis experienced unmatched delight.
However, when Sloan the baby was born, her parents were horrified to discover a sizable tumor developing on her face. Sloan needed emergency attention but it wasn’t detected on any of the ultrasounds.
Sloan was required to have thirteen procedures to get the tumor removed because it covered half of her face.
She thankfully survived, and today she’s a joyful girl just like any other. This is her amazing tale, complete with photos of her current appearance.
Being a parent is one of the most joyful experiences one can have. Anyone who hasn’t experienced the pure ecstasy of welcoming a baby into the world simply cannot understand it.
Sadly, for some, that happiness can quickly turn into unimaginable fear.
Sloan McGillis – born with giant facial tumor
Certainly, Joe and Jennifer McGillis fit this description. Sloan, their daughter, was born to the couple on February 25, 2015. But the moment she was born, her parents noticed she had a growth on her face.
Sloan was sent to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit on the third day of her life. The protrusion turned out to be a tumor. Fortunately, it wasn’t malignant, but the doctors were still very worried.
Meanwhile, Joe and Jennifer were in complete disbelief.
“They handed her to me,” Jennifer explained, recalling the first moment she saw Sloan with the tumor. “I went into shock at that point.”
“I had about a minute of panic terror,” Joe added.
Fortunately, the medical professional in charge, Dr. Hardy, was extraordinary. He became an essential part of Sloan’s life for a long time.
“He walked into Sloan’s hospital room when she was just born, looked at her & said, “That is a hemangioma & she will be just fine. Your daughter is going to be ok.” And for the 1st time in 48 hours, I think I was able to breathe again,” Jennifer wrote on Facebook.
Hemangioma is a form of tumor that shows up as red or purple lumps on the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. They are composed of blood vessel wall cells that divide quickly. It’s a kind of birthmark that, as in Sloan’s case, can be present in newborns at birth. Hemangioma is a tumor, but it isn’t cancerous, it doesn’t pose a life-threatening threat, and it doesn’t spread to other parts of the body.
After surgery, the growths themselves can be removed without running the risk of recurrence. Nevertheless, problems can arise, such as sores that cause pain, scarring, or infection.
Had her first surgery at eight months old
“When she was born, it was hard as a rock, Jennifer told the Billings Gazette. “It was like having a grapefruit under your skin.”
A hemangioma may obstruct a child’s eyesight, breathing, or hearing depending on where it is located. One concern was that it might have an impact on the muscles on the left side of Sloan McGillis’ lips because it covered most of her left face in that situation.
She was forced to wear a bib all day to capture the drool because she was unable to properly close her mouth.
Jennifer said, “She just doesn’t seem to know it’s there, she’s grown up with it. Nothing has been done to handle it as a visibility.
Sloan’s parents were advised by hospital staff to wait and see if the tumor reduced over time. At the time, Joe and Jennifer were concerned about Sloan’s schoolmates’ reactions if the tumor wasn’t removed.
“The world is cruel sometimes,” Joe said.
“Sometimes adults are worse about it than other children,” Jennifer added. “Many parents of children with hemangioma are accused of child abuse.”
When Sloan McGillis was eight months old, the decision was taken for her to have surgery. Her parents met with specialists around the US and soon began working with Dr. Milton Waner at the Vascular Birthmark Institute of New York. He is seen as one of the world’s foremost experts in vascular anomalies.
On January 6, 2016, Sloan was prepped for the procedure.
On Sloan’s Facebook page, Jennifer wrote about the very emotional day her daughter went under the knife.
“I prayed that was not the last time I held her“
“They had a plan, but we knew we couldn’t expect the entire tumor to be gone & you can never mentally prepare yourself to see your baby cut all over their face with 100’s of sutures & tubes coming out of them. I look back on this 1st experience & my stomach goes in knots just thinking about the moment I held her in the operating room with the mask over her face & watched her eyes roll back in her head,” Jennifer wrote.
“In that moment, as I think most parents would have a wave of fear come over them, I prayed that was not the last time I held her. Surgery itself is scary enough but to have to make the decision to have it done on your infant is gut wrenching. Were we doing the right thing? Was it to much for her little body? Will the pain be too much for her & she can’t tell us? “
The procedure involved making incisions below Sloan’s eye and along the side of her nose and mouth to open her cheek up. The doctors were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor.
At a subsequent appointment a week later, Dr. Waner used laser therapy to treat some of the blood vessels under her skin, assisting in the restoration of her normal skin tone.
The treatment was incredibly successful, but Joe and Jennifer McGillis still faced a significant issue. It came out that Sloan’s Montana Medicaid insurance wouldn’t be accepted by the hospital, Lenox Hill, in New York, and that her daughter’s surgeries would be quite expensive.
In an effort to raise money, Joe and Jennifer turned to the internet.
A Missoula bank established a medical fund in Sloan’s honor, and an online fundraising campaign raised more than $30,000.
Slone McGillis’ family was given more than $100 000 for medical costs
Three months before the first surgery, Joe and Jennifer got word that the Hannah Storm Foundation had raised enough money to cover all Sloan’s surgeries and hospital stays in New York. Their local Missouri community supported them massively, and the support was overwhelming for the parents.
In total, the family was able to raise more than $100,000.
“Everything we were worried about just fell away,” Jennifer told Missoulian. “We didn’t have to worry about how to pay for all of this.”
Joe added: “They aren’t donating to us, they are donating to her, and it was tough to wrap our heads around that for a while. Sloan’s changed us, she’s made us stronger and made us better people.”
Over the next year, Sloan underwent nine more procedures, the tenth of which helped remove the scars from her face. The world has been able to follow Sloan’s journey through her Facebook page, Sloan’s Story, and over the years, they have been given some special treats.
The family met ESPN anchor Hannah Storm – the founder of the Hannah Storm Foundation – who donated money to Sloan.
“I was born with a port wine birthmark stain on my face. Without makeup, even to this day [it] looks like a black eye,” Storm told Inside Edition.
Jennifer called her daughter a “miracle” and was happy that Sloan “has a chance at a better life.”
This is Sloan McGillis today
Sloan’s inspirational story spread nationwide, and hundreds of people wrote positive comments on their Facebook page. She also received assistance from the Jadyn Fred Foundation, where she was given a pony to add joy to her life during a difficult time.
The years passed, and Sloan grew up, got a dog, and made many friends. Today, the little girl has just turned eight – and she’s living her best life.
She has almost 5,000 followers on her Facebook, and is learning how to play golf and baseball.
“I didn’t know that my little girl was half as brave as she has proven herself to be,” hermother, Jennifer, wrote on Facebook in January 2020.
“She has taken us places we never expected. She loves so hard & she is so smart, funny, & sensitive, but also stubborn & determined too. I always tell people that there was a reason this was given to Sloan & it’s because she is the one tough enough to go through it all. To all that have followed on this journey with us, THANK YOU! I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again…. your prayers touched us, gave us hope & got us through days like this one 4 years ago. To Sloan, I love you, Noanie, you’re nothing short of amazing & don’t ever forget that.”
As mentioned, Dr. Hardy was crucial to Sloan and her shot at a normal life.
Praised Dr. Hardy
In May 2021, her family attended their last check-up meeting at his office – by all accounts, he’s become like an extra family member. In an emotional post, Jennifer described him as “patient, kind and generous.”
“It’s difficult for me as a mom to put into words the gratitude I have for him. He will never truly know what he has done for Sloan, myself & my family,” Jeniffer McGillis wrote. “Thank you for doing things for my daughter that we, as her parents could not. Thank you for our monthly visits that I’m certain I looked forward to much more than Sloan; I truly think of you as a friend now.”
Sloan has some problems now even after the tumor was removed. Dr. Hardy was concerned that the proteins released by the tumor had caused the orbital bone in her cheek and eye socket to thicken. Her family was compelled to visit him once again.
According to the most recent photo, which was uploaded on April 27, 2023, Sloan is genuinely content and engaged in life like a youngster should be.
Stunningly amazing is how Sloan McGillis’ story ends. We’re overjoyed that she’s doing well and that these extraordinary doctors were able to assist her.
Please share Sloan’s story on Facebook with your loved ones in order to celebrate the incredible medical staff—they are true heroes—and to commemorate Sloan.