A teenage boy with a massive tumour on his face may finally get rid of the deformity after doctors in Florida decided to surgically remove it. 14-year-old Emanuel Zayas travelled from Cuba to Miami with his parents in the hopes of finding a cure to his problem.
Emanuel was born with a rare disorder called polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, which causes his body to develop scar-like tissue instead of bone. These growths mostly occur on the skull, arms and legs, but in his case it has gone on to cover a major part of his face.
Noel Zayas, the boy's father, said that the teenage boy was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of two when a bone in his leg began to fragment and deform.
About the current condition, he said that the benign tumour began as a pimple on his nose when he hit puberty about two years ago but, has continued to grow to the size of a basketball — currently weighing around 10 pounds or 4.5kg. The mass pushes down on his trachea, making it difficult for Emanuel to eat food, as a result of which he is undernourished.
"It's life threatening by its very weight," Dr Robert Marx, chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery for the University of Miami Health System or UHealth, said at a press conference at the Jackson Memorial Hospital on Friday (22 December).
"If nothing is done, it will cause a fracture of his neck," he added.
Marx and a team of surgeons have scheduled a surgery for 12 January during which they will remove the tumour.
Emmanuel's father said that doctors in Cuba were unwilling to operate on the facial tumour because of the complications that could arise during the surgery. "I knocked on a lot of hospital doors," Zayas said. "I thank God that we're here and that this country and Jackson Memorial would welcome us.
"To see our son deforming and all we can do is watch, it's not easy."
Missionaries to the family's church brought the case to Dr Marx, who has experience in removing similar tumours. He previously operated on a Haitian woman who had a 16-pound mass on her face.
Emmanuel's operation is expected to take around 12 hours and will include reconstruction of his nose to help him breathe easily. Thereafter, he will require additional surgeries to reconstruct his cheek, jaw and other facial features. Prosthetic teeth will also need to be implanted in his mouth.