It took 25 medical professionals and a full half-day to remove a massive tumor from an 11-year-old Mexican boy who had traveled to the US for help. Reuters describes the growth on the neck, shoulder, and upper torso of Jose Antonio Ramirez Serrano's left side as football-sized: almost a foot long and 4 inches wide and deep. The operation took place Monday at the University of New Mexico Hospital and was "two years in the making," says Kristean Alcocer, a ministry coordinator for the First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, which helped get Jose to the US. The AP reports that church members came upon the boy during a missionary visit to Ciudad Juarez in 2012 and learned his parents had hit a dead end in terms of getting medical help for Jose in Mexico.
A humanitarian visa was arranged for Jose, who KOAT reported was born with a golfball-sized growth, and he arrived in New Mexico in July of that year; he's been traveling back and forth to receive treatment since. Reuters describes lymphangiomas as rare lymphatic system "malformations." Though the tumor itself is benign, Jose's parents say its size led to eyesight complications, limited his movement on the left side, and grew into his trachea, which the El Paso Times reports hampered his breathing. The church has raised funds for the treatment, and Alcocer says his medical expenses have been covered. He'll be in the hospital for at least a month; in future surgeries, his shoulder bone will be rebuilt, and excess skin will be removed .