Blue Planet II

Dy­lan un­der­goes pi­o­neer­ing surgery to treat po­ten­tially deadly birth­marks cov­er­ing his body

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Cute clown­fish, par­rot­fish, green tur­tles, manta rays and the reef oc­to­pus are among sea crea­tures fea­tured in this third pro­gramme of Sir David At­ten­bor­ough’s na­ture se­ries, which takes in life that re­lies on the world’s coral reefs.

When four-year-old Dy­lan was born his mother Nikki was over­come by fear each time she touched him. He was born with gi­ant con­gen­i­tal melanocytic ne­vus, a con­di­tion which has left

80 per cent of his body cov­ered by hairy birth­marks.

Heartache

‘Dy­lan’s back was open and bleed­ing,’ re­calls Nikki in this week’s episode of Body Bizarre. ‘I was scared to hold him be­cause I didn’t know if he would sur­vive.’

Most wor­ry­ing for Nikki and her part­ner, Kara, was the fact that, if left un­treated, there’s a one-in-10 chance Dy­lan’s moles will de­velop into deadly skin can­cer. ‘He could be di­ag­nosed with some­thing that could take his life in two months,’ ex­plains Kara sadly.

Now, hav­ing un­der­gone 27 surg­eries, Dy­lan, from At­lanta in the Amer­i­can state of Ge­or­gia, is fac­ing his big­gest op­er­a­tion yet – and it’s a pi­o­neer­ing pro­ce­dure. In Cincin­nati, doc­tors in­sert two ex­pand­ing bal­loons filled with saline un­der Dy­lan’s skin. As they stretch the sur­face area, it is hoped enough fresh skin will be cre­ated to re­place an 180cm-square birth­mark area.

Un­cer­tain fu­ture

But Dy­lan’s par­ents and twin broth­ers have an anx­ious wait.

‘His fu­ture is un­cer­tain,’ ad­mits Kara. ‘There are all kinds of is­sues we could po­ten­tially face. You can’t dis­miss the wor­ries and the fears.’

Thank­fully, Dy­lan’s surgery goes well, and al­though he faces a tough re­cov­ery pe­riod, he’s de­lighted to hear the arm he uses to throw his base­ball will even­tu­ally re­gain full mo­bil­ity. Nikki and Kara are ec­static at Dy­lan’s prog­no­sis. ‘He’s re­ally tough,’ says Nikki. ‘He’s my hero.’

TLC is avail­able on Sky Chan­nel 125 and Vir­gin 167

Coral crea­ture… A reef oc­to­pus

Courage… The young­ster to­day Rare con­di­tion… Dy­lan as a tod­dler

with mum Kara

Re­cov­er­ing… Dy­lan af­ter im­plant surgery

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