(NewsNation) — A Florida family has nicknamed their toddler “Little Ninja Turtle” due to a growth on his back that once resembled a turtle shell.
James McCallum was born with giant congenital melanocytic nevus, a condition in which pigment cells don’t develop correctly. In his case, it caused the 20-month-old to have a large raised area on his back that his parents said looked like a turtle shell.
His parents, Kaitlyn and Tim McCallum, from Clearwater, noticed something was different about their son when he was born.
“It was just a different tint, a different color, there was some kind of scabby-type things on his upper back,” Tim McCallum said.
Kaitlyn McCallum said it looked like “a birthmark with scabbing.”
“At the time, you’re on that mommy feeling of just having your baby, and you’re just excited for him to be here,” she said. “You don’t think anything and then over a couple of days, you start to, you know, notice everything, and you know, that’s a big thing to notice for a little one.”
The growth continued to get larger over the months, and it took two surgeries just for James to be able to lie on his back. His parents said they then noticed he seemed more comfortable. Doctors told the family the little boy will grow up with minimal scarring from his surgery.
According to the National Institute of Health, the lesions, which typically present at birth, are rare, affecting less than about 1 in 20,000 newborns. They also can be associated with complications such as malignant melanoma.
Kaitlyn McCallum has a message for other parents whose children are dealing with a rare condition.
“You’re not alone,” she said. “Reach out to your community and there are people that have the same thing that can help you.”