A Tauranga girl, born with a rare birthmark that covers parts of her face, eyes and nose, has set her sights on a conference in California where she can meet medical professionals specialising in her condition.

Zahnee Campbell, 9, was first featured in the Herald several years ago when fundraising money for surgery to treat her birthmark - a facial vascular hemangioma tumour, which grows both on the surface of her skin and beneath it.

The mark, which is associated with Phace syndrome, affected her sight, co-ordination, caused headaches and painful pressure on her shoulders.

Zahnee's mum, Jade Riley, said that while the surgery had alleviated the symptoms and improved her daughter's sight, she was still living with the effects of the syndrome.


"She has headaches, exhaustion and struggles with her eye being the way that it is, with the mild facial deformity," she said. "She gets a lot of comments about her face ... she struggles ... people do say things."

Ms Riley hoped by going to the Vascular Birthmark Foundation conference, being held in California in mid-October, she would be able to meet specialists who might have ideas about what future treatments were available for Zahnee.

But despite the effects of the syndrome, which is commonly associated with the vascular birthmarks and malformation of the eyes, major arteries and the brain, Ms Riley said Zahnee was doing well.

The schoolgirl had a good network of friends, enjoyed reading and writing and was quite passionate about her pets - including her chicken Smiggles - and her fundraising projects.

"Zahnee is very motivated to help anybody in need, she enjoys her volunteering work, such as delivering bread to the needy and helping her friends and neighbours," Ms Riley said. "She is a very caring and loving big sister to her little brother."

Zahnee's passion for helping others also extended to other children with her condition. "I would be very grateful for the support, to help other children like me," Zahnee said.

Ms Riley said they hoped that going to the conference would benefit other children with the rare condition. "The main struggle is not having the expertise to help."

To help Zahnee
•Go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/support4zahnee
•To buy Zahnee's book, contact nightowl12@xtra.co.nz
•Costs $12 including postage; proceeds will go towards Zahnee's tri