New York Mom of Baby With Neck Growth Hopes Surgery Will Change Her Life

Sandy Diaz, 1, will receive surgery to remove a non-cancerous neck growth.

— -- A New York mom is hoping her daughter's surgery will grant her some normalcy in life.

Sandy Diaz, 1, will undergo surgery to remove a non-cancerous neck growth on Aug. 3 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, her mother, Maricela Benitez, 33, told ABC News.

Sandy was born on June 17, 2015, at NYU Langone Medical Center with a large mass, or lymphatic malformation, on her right cheek. As a result, the infant's airway has been blocked and she is forced to breathe from a tracheostomy tube.

"I saw her and I was happy," she said, through a translator. "I couldn’t carry her...but I played with her."

Doctors at NYU attempted to drain the growth, but failed, Benitez said.

"[We] finally sent her to Mount Sinai where they did a similar thing," she recalled. "They took out the liquid and put something on it to treat it. Two more times they tried, and it didn’t work."

With limited options, Benitez contacted Dr. Milton Waner, director of the Vascular Birthmarks Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Waner will attempt to remove the mass on Wednesday morning.

Waner told ABC News that Sandy's growth can cause serious health problems if it continues to block the baby’s airway, or caused an infection.

"It's non-cancerous, but understand it will grow bigger and bigger and pose life-threatening complications," he said. "The operation is very difficult. The most difficult are the branches of the facial nerves because these are the nerves that allow your facial expressions to move. If we cut these nerves accidentally during the surgery...those muscles will be paralyzed. If we were to cut the buckle nerve, she won't be able to smile on that side and that would be devastating."

Waner added: "Fortunately, we have a lot of experience and we do this type of dissection frequently, about once a week. In the best case scenario, we'd be able to move all of the malformation or most of it and she'll be able to look and function normally."

Benitez's hopes her daughter will eventually be able to walk and crawl following her recovery.