Rochester boy has life-changing surgery in NYC, ready for back to school

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Rochester boy is now ready to tackle the new school year, thanks to a life-altering surgery performed in New York City.

6-year-old Julius Pacheco had an unusual growth on his lip that left the door open to teasing — and prevented him from participating in activities at school.

Julius’ parents were told the growth was a type of birthmark located on his lip. A sort of benign tumor that would go away with time. Julius’ mother, Angela Lugo says that didn’t happen. 

“Hormones apparently would have caused it to massively grow,” Angela said. “Nobody really tried to figure it out.”

That left the family to search outside of Rochester for solutions. Dr. Gregory Levitin with the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai managed to diagnose the growth. 

“It was actually a type of vascular malformation called a ‘venous malformation,” Levitin said.

A painful condition that grows and grows. If someone with this diagnosis were to fall and cut open the area, they could in theory bleed to death. It could also grow to clog airway paths.

“Imagine that in the airway. So, it can continue all the way into the tongue and the airway,” Levitin said. “Those are really challenging cases.”

Levitin believes conditions like this can easily lead to social issues in the classroom. At school, many activities were a no-go for Julius.

“I think that now he has this thing off, he’s going to be even more confident,” Levitin said.

Julius’ father Jeremiah Pacheco saying in just two days, his boy was back to normal. 

“I think the biggest thing for me was his recovery. Everything was taken care of and that was just such a relief,” Pacheco said.

Both parents saying Julius’ friends might not recognize him when he goes back to school. But Julius says everyone will. His lip never defined who he was.

“The thing that they know about me…and recognize me from is my heart,” Julius said.

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