POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – When Carolina Fenner gave birth to her baby daughter Luna in March, she was stunned to see a black growth covering much of the infant's face.
"I'm used to it now, but then I was just shocked," she said.
Luna was born with a disfiguring and potentially deadly skin condition called giant congenital melanocytic nevus.
"Besides looking unusual, they pose a risk of malignant degeneration. The skin cells in those areas are abnormal and can turn into a malignant melanoma, which is a very lethal type of skin cancer," said Dr. Anthony Wolfe, a pediatric plastic surgeon with Nicklaus Children's Hospital.
Local 10 News connected Fenner with Wolfe last spring, but after learning that he would recommend multiple surgeries staged out over four years, Fenner decided to gather other opinions.
"We saw a lot of doctors. We went to Boston, Chicago and New York trying to find a better result," Fenner said.
Through social media and the expanse of the internet, a doctor from Russia contacted Fenner and offered an approach that would cut the number of surgeries and the time to stage them in half.
"He said, 'Come here. I can do something they don't do in the USA,'" Fenner said.
Fenner is nervous about going so far away to a country where she knows no one and doesn't speak the language, but her maternal instinct tells her it's a chance worth taking.
"It's going to be cold. I'm going to be alone. My husband will be here to work, but I'm going to try," she said. "You know, we're strong."
A fundraising event for Luna is being held from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday at the Little Brazil Restaurant at 8177 Glades Road in Boca Raton.
The entrance fee is $10. All food and drinks will be half-priced.