A grade school picture shows a curious boy with a sweet grin, but Matthew Hutsell's parents saw something else.
"It started as like just a red spot on his cheek," said Lynn Hutsell, Matthew's mother.
At the age of five, it was very subtle, but then became very noticeable. On his right side, Matthew's face was slowly caving in. He was eventually diagnosed with Parry-Romberg morphea, an autoimmune disease. His body was attacking the tissue in his face.
"They couldn't tell me too much about it because it's so rare, so I just had to keep looking up things and going to different doctors and finding out everything I could," Matthew's mother said.
"Unfortunately, it's not reversible," said Beaumont Children's Hospital pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate.
Without a cure, the Hutsells realized surgery was the only option.
Chaiyasate painstakingly transplanted tissue from Hutsell's back into his face.
"It's a technical and demanding operation. So many [things] could go wrong," the surgeon said.
It's called microsurgery, making sure tiny blood vessels connect and keep tissue alive and creating symmetry with Matthew's face.
Days after the surgery, I visited Matthew in the hospital. He was covered in stitches and smiling despite the pain.
In his room, you could hear the sound of a Doppler ultrasound making sure blood was flowing from his neck to his forehead, feeding the new tissue.
After the surgery, what was his reaction?
"He just now saw himself today, and it was for a split second. He saw the yellow things on his face, and he turned away. I think it kind of scared him," Matthew's mother said.
Two weeks later, Matthew was starting to look like the boy in the picture again. Now he is getting stares for a good reason.
"My dad's always staring at my face," Matthew said.
"His dad keeps staring at his face and saying, 'I'm sorry I'm staring, but you just look amazing,'" his mother said.
The doctor told us with the new tissue in place, the disease should not return.
Part of the work Dr. Chaiyasate does at Beaumont is supported by Children's Miracle Network. Beaumont Children's Hospital is a member of the Children's Miracle Network - a national alliance of premier hospitals for children. The non-profit organization is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America. When you donate to CMNH, you're helping kids like Matthew.
Click here to learn how you can help: http://foundation.beaumont.edu/childrens-miracle-network