Wollongong girl Ruby Ashby faces surgery to remove a rare birthmark

Rare condition: Towradgi girl Ruby Ashby, with mother Natalie, will have a series of operations to remove a mole on her face. Pictures: Sylvia Liber

Rare condition: Towradgi girl Ruby Ashby, with mother Natalie, will have a series of operations to remove a mole on her face. Pictures: Sylvia Liber

When Ruby Ashby entered the world seven months ago her adoring mum saw straight past the unusual dark mark covering half of her face. She saw perfection.

She’d been blessed with a gorgeous little girl whose cheeky smile, happy disposition and contagious laugh made her the apple of everyone’s eye.

But like all parents, Natalie and Ben Ashby want their little girl to have the best start in life – the best chance at health and happiness.

And they knew straight away Ruby’s hairy birthmark – a rare condition called congenital melanocytic nevus – could affect her future.

Little Ruby. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Little Ruby. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Doctors told the Towradgi couple there was a chance the rare condition could lead to melanoma. It was a slight chance, but one worth eliminating.

‘’Ruby didn’t ask for this, so we as parents have to do what we think is best for her,’’ Mrs Ashby said.

‘’We had have to do what is right for our little girl and we know this is the right thing.

‘’It’s a hard decision putting her through operations to remove it, but one Ben and I know is right.” 

Little Ruby. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Little Ruby. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Doctors never once suggested leaving it. 

‘’We have been advised by professionals that this type of procedure is recommended to be started from a young age. 

‘’It was always talk about how and when to remove it,’’ Mrs Ashby said.

She doesn’t want Ruby to be bullied at school or have to worry about the mole.

"I hate when people say it's not a necessity, or make negative comments, we think for her it is necessary.’’

A man in his 20s who had had one removed when he was a boy told the Ashbys it was the best thing his parents could have done. 

Ruby will undergo the first operation on January 12. 

She could need as many as seven to remove the mole before she starts school.

A silicone balloon will be inserted under her facial skin, which will gradually be inflated to stretch the skin so doctors will have enough to replace the mole-covered area.​

Surgeons take a skin graft using the skin behind Ruby’s ear to remove the mole around her eye.

​​Mrs Ashby’s family is fundraising to help with the medical costs. The first operation is $10,000 and the overall tally looks more like  $40,000.

A GoFundMe page set up by Ruby's aunt has already raised more than $23,600.

‘’We didn’t expect this, our family set up the page and the support has just been overwhelming,’’ Mrs Ashby said.

‘’We've been contacted by families whose children have been through the same thing, thanking us for raising awareness. Their children have never looked back.’’

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