A 10-pound tumor with the potential to suffocate or break the neck of the Cuban 14-year-old whose face it was covering was successfully removed in Miami, but then things took a turn. The Miami Herald reports Emanuel Zayas died Friday night due to kidney and lung complications at the Holtz Children's Hospital. Emanuel suffered from polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, which USA Today reports spurs the body to grow something akin to scar tissue instead of bone; his family initially thought the growth, which the Washington Post reports surfaced when he was 11, was a pimple. His parents sought help for years, but Cuban doctors were too skittish over the risks of surgery. The family finally secured a humanitarian visa.
It allowed him to fly to Miami on Nov. 27 and undergo surgery Jan. 13 at the hands of Dr. Robert Marx, who heads up maxillofacial surgery at the University of Miami Health System and had once removed a woman's 16-pound facial tumor. Said Marx in a statement: "After visiting Emanuel last night and observing a ray of hope from his pupillary reflexes and the muscle tone of his face, I was informed this morning that his condition had turned grave. ... The physiological stress of the surgery was apparently too much for his compromised anatomy. Our hopes of saving his life, and with that allowing him a better quality of life, were not realized." Marx says the teen's body will be donated to science by the family, in hopes of learning more about the condition. (Read more tumor stories.)