Woman born with giant birthmark is cruelly branded 'purple people eater' after it won't stop growing

Kiana Smith, 40, was born with a port-wine stain birthmark on the left side of her face.


The purple pigmentation also covered her neck and chest and left her the victim of cruel taunts during her school years.

But Kiana, from Cumana in Trinidad, has undergone five surgeries and specialised laser treatment to help lessen then mark and is now an ambassador for the Vascular Birthmark Foundation.

She has recently flown to New York for more treatment, but is concerned she can feel the mark growing back.

"I’m feeling some bulkiness along here with my chin and underneath a little bit," she told Barcroft TV.


“The surgeries on my birthmark have helped so much. I don’t have this bulk on my face anymore.

“As I would describe it, it’s like having this huge one-inch steak, the weight of it hanging on your face.


“Sometimes I would feel the blood just running and pumping in my birthmark.

“But I don’t have that anymore. I am able to speak much better which is fantastic. “

A port-wine stain birthmark are called so because they look like someone has spilt port-wine on the skin.

About 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with these marks.

They most often occur on faces, heads, arms or legs and are caused by abnormal development of blood vessels in the skin.

Unlike other birthmarks port-wine stains do not fade as a child gets older, instead it grows with them and often becomes hardened on the outside with age.

But Kiana also have a genetic condition that causes her birthmark to overgrow.

At one point it was so large she found it difficult to eat and drink.

"It is something that will always be there, always growing.

“The birthmark will never go away. I have accepted that now.

“I don’t want my whole life focused on the fact that I have a birthmark.

“I don’t want it to keep me back from enjoying life.”

Despite finally learning to accept the way she looks, Kiana said she will never get used to strangers staring at her.

“People always stare at me when I leave the house,” she added.

“I also feel like I have been in difficult situations with children.

“You know children will often freak out, screaming, crying and everything and I have felt so bad because I’m the cause of their reaction.

“I think entering high school was when I really had those first confidence issues

“I would get called, ‘prune face’, ‘purple face’ and one of the popular ones was the ‘purple people eater’.

“But my mother really helped me deal with this by treating me just as any other child.”

Mum Ann McCarthy, 62, added: “I don’t think it affects her as much now as an adult as it did when she was much younger.

“She’s able to be in society as a human being and like a normal human being.

“I’ve always tried to emphasise to her, it is what is inside you that matters – not your external appearance.

“I am unable to really say in words how proud I am of her.”

But Kiana said all of the name-calling she faced earlier in life has only made her more determined to succeed.

“I don’t really know what the future holds,” she said.

“In terms of my birthmark, I’d like to have more laser surgery because that is critical.

“I’m not going to say that I’ll ever be perfectly happy with my birthmark, because I don’t love it.

“Despite everything, I am proud of myself and what I have achieved.”


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