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Image courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital

Giant Tumor Removed From Girl's Face: Surgical Images

Dejania Oliver | July 13, 2021 | Contributor Information

Nagalem Alafa, 6, is from a small town in Ethiopia. She was flown to the United States for intricate surgery to remove a giant mass from her face, shown in this scan. The little girl was born with a vascular malformation that developed rapidly, but her family had no access to medical care to get it removed.

Image courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital

Giant Tumor Removed From Girl's Face: Surgical Images

Dejania Oliver | July 13, 2021 | Contributor Information

Nagalem and her father, Matios Alafa Haile, met with Teresa O, MD, who, along with her husband, Milton Waner, MD, would perform the surgery. The married team is one of the few in the world specializing in complex pediatric vascular malformations. A US government official connected the family with the surgeons.

Image courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital

Giant Tumor Removed From Girl's Face: Surgical Images

Dejania Oliver | July 13, 2021 | Contributor Information

Dr Milton Waner, left, is shown with his wife, Dr Teresa O, center, and Robert Rosen, MD, director of The AVM Center of New York at Lenox Hill. The doctors agreed to take the case and perform the surgery pro bono. Lenox Hill Hospital and Northwell Health covered all hospital costs and postsurgical care.

Image courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital

Giant Tumor Removed From Girl's Face: Surgical Images

Dejania Oliver | July 13, 2021 | Contributor Information

The operation, conducted on June 23, required facial and neck nerve dissections followed by careful excision of the tumor. The surgeons needed to cautiously navigate branches of nerves and vital arteries that could cause paralysis and severe blood loss if accidentally severed.

"Her blood volume is only 1 liter and you can lose 300-400 milliliters in a minute or two by accidentally puncturing these blood vessels." said Waner, director of the Vascular Birthmark Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, at a press conference. "This is one of the most complicated procedures we've done."

Image courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital

Giant Tumor Removed From Girl's Face: Surgical Images

Dejania Oliver | July 13, 2021 | Contributor Information

Due to the malformation abutting the mandible, it infiltrated the bone. The doctors shaved it down as much as possible and reconstructed it with a dermal substitute as well as an abdominal fat graft.

Image courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital

Giant Tumor Removed From Girl's Face: Surgical Images

Dejania Oliver | July 13, 2021 | Contributor Information

A large portion of the growth was removed from the girl's face and neck.

Image courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital

Giant Tumor Removed From Girl's Face: Surgical Images

Dejania Oliver | July 13, 2021 | Contributor Information

Nagalem can now eat and breathe easier after the difficult operation.

"Everywhere she's gone, her personality has shined," said O, director of the Facial Nerve Center at Lenox Hill Hospital. "We've been really privileged to have been a part of her journey."

Read more about the married surgeons behind this live-saving effort.

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