New Face for Canadian Toddler After Intricate Surgery

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Exceptional. Overwhelming. Unreal. Beautiful. These are just a few of the words that are being used to describe the transformation little Maddox Flynn has undergone thanks to the skilled hands of New York-based surgeon, Dr. Milton Waner.

Waner, the co-director of the Vascular Birthmark Institute of New York at Roosevelt Hospital, is an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of hemangiomas and vascular malformations — making him the ideal doctor to take on Maddox’s case.

Since birth, Maddox has suffered from a rare lymphatic malformation that completely engulfed the left side of his face. But that’s not the case anymore.

On Monday, the 2-and-a-half-year-old from Edmonton, Canada underwent a nearly 5-hour surgery at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City to remove the last piece of the massive growth.

“Everything went exceptionally well,” Waner said shortly after the intricate surgery was over. “We were able to remove the tumor. I would say well over 95 percent of it is gone. He may have little bits and pieces left in the skin, but that is not going to be a problem. From here on, he will just need minor nips and tucks.”

Waner was also able to reposition Maddox’s nose and shorten the distance between his eye and his lip.

“His face is much more symmetrical, and all of the nerves that were present before seem to be functioning very nicely,” he said. “Maddox seems to be in very good shape and I am very happy with the way things went.”

And Waner isn’t the only one.

"He looks beautiful," his mom, Nicole Champagne, said with tears in her eyes. "It's overwhelming. Maddox looks beautiful and I'm just grateful."

Standing beside Champagne, Maddox’s dad, Mike Flynn — who was equally emotional — said this milestone was a celebration for him.

“After two-and-a-half years — this is it. You know, I heard one more touch-up procedure, but other than that, this is a dream come true."

One reason the surgery was such a success was due in part to a one-of-a-kind technology that allowed Waner and his team to locate and preserve the main facial nerve, which was right in the middle of the malformation.

“Sometimes it's impossible to find these nerves,” he said. “But now we have a specialized electrophysiological team who do work that is quite unique. It’s not done anywhere else. They're able to map the nerves and then they monitor them intraoperatively.”

Lymphatic malformation is an extremely disfiguring condition and if left untreated, it will get worse and worse as time progresses, Waner told in May when he operated on Maddox to remove the first part of the tumor above his left eye.

Although the condition has blinded him in that eye, Waner is very hopeful for the future of this endearing, energetic and strong little boy.

“I think everything will change,” he said. “It's not just a disfigurement issue, it's a sociological issue, which affects the entire family, and I think this will all change.”

These two life-changing operations would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the outpouring of support by the people who fell in love with Maddox after seeing his story on Canadian news stations and various other media outlets around the world.

To date, more than $250,000 has been raised to help the toddler and his family through this tough time — something they will always be grateful for.

“I'm overwhelmed,” Champagne said. “There have been so many people throughout Canada, throughout the States and even Europe that have helped out. It's Maddox. He just grabs everybody's heart.”

Maddox, who was running around and eating chicken nuggets less than 24 hours after his surgery, was expected to be discharged from the hospital Tuesday afternoon. He and his family will stay in New York City for the next week to enjoy the sights. In six to eight weeks, he will have another follow up with Dr. Waner to assess his progress.

And then after that — the sky is the limit.

“Words can't explain it, Flynn said. “He's going to be able to talk, he's going to be able to close his mouth now, look normal, and not be teased and run away from.”

“His face is going to look like every other kid out there,” Champagne said. “He's going to be able to have a great chance at a good life.”

Click here for more on Dr. Waner’s Foundation.

Click here to learn more about Maddox’s journey.