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Updated 12 July 2018

Man survived for 10 years with football-sized tumour on his face

Doctors in India have given a 19-year-old boy a new lease on life by removing a 4.8kg tumour from his jaw.

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Amar Samad had been living with the giant tumour for over 10 years. He struggled to eat, see and even breathe properly as a result of the deformity which covered most of the left side of his face. 

The tumour was a result of a condition known as hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumour syndrome. According to the US National Library of Medicine, hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumour syndrome is a condition characterised by over-activity of the parathyroid glands.

The tumours are usually benign (noncancerous) and even though the name of the condition leads one to expect jaw tumours, it is estimated that only 25% of affected patients experience this symptom.

Poverty stricken

Samad comes from a small village in Jharkhand, west of Kolkata, where he grew up as an orphan. His father died when he was a toddler and his mother abandoned him, forcing a seven-year-old Samad to work as a domestic worker in Punjab, a nearby city.

The tumour started growing when he was nine. When Samad returned home he was robbed of the little money he had made by people who promised to help him with his condition.

However, Samad refused to let his adversities get the best of him. By the time the tumour had expanded to the size of a football, a group of surgeons at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi decided to intervene and help him at no cost. 

Risk and complications

The team of doctors were worried about the risk surgery entailed as the tumour was a collection of bone and fibrous tissue. They were also anxious about the vision in his left eye as it was already giving him trouble.

Dr Subramania Iyer, head of the hospital's plastic and reconstructive surgery, led the operation to remove the tumour. "His case was unique and the humongous growth was leading towards grave complications," Dr Iyer told The Times of India. He went on to say, "If the condition persisted, Amar would have found it impossible to eat and breathe. After removing the tumour, we constructed a new upper jaw by transferring the leg bone." 

The reconstruction had to be carefully planned using a 3D printer to construct a model of Samad's face and tumour, as well as performing a mock surgery for practice.

The transformation and future

After the surgery Samad was ecstatic about the results. Speaking to The Times of India, he said, "A day after the surgery, the doctor showed me my new look on his mobile and I was happy with the change."

While Samad will need several more surgeries on his eyes, and also requires implants placed in his reconstructed upper jaw to act as teeth, the transformation he has undergone is undeniable, thanks to the kindness of Dr Iyer and his team.

“We still have to improve the eye position and perform dental implants. This will be done after six months,” explained Dr Iyer.  

Image credit: iStock 

 
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