Nguyen Duy Hai from Vietnam has come through a 12-hour operation to remove a 198 lb tumour from his right leg.
Nguyen Duy Hai, 32, is said to be in a stable condition after the surgery at the France-Vietnam hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
Leading U.S. surgeon McKay McKinnon led the eight-strong team who began operating on Nguyen Duy Hai’s leg at 8:55 a.m. local time this morning.
The surgeons didn’t finish until 9:15 p.m.
Dr. McKay McKinnon, who has successfully removed other large tumours in his 30-year career, had been positive about the surgery despite it carrying just a 50% success rate.
Speaking to Tuoitrenews, a Vietnamese website, before the procedure, Dr. McKay McKinnon said it was essential for his team to take out the “nidus” or origin of the tumour to stop the growth returning.
Nguyen Duy Hai suffers from neurofibromatosis, a disease that causes disfiguring tumors to form on nerves throughout the body.
The tumour began growing when Nguyen Duy Hai was a boy and is thought to be the biggest ever recorded in Vietnam.
Over the year it has grown from the base of his spine, snaking up his back and around his thighs.
It is intertwined with bloody vessels making cutting it away potentially deadly.
The strain on Nguyen Duy Hai’s already weakened heart was also a risk. To combat this, the team decided to keep him upright throughout the operation.
While the tumour is not cancerous, its sheer mass means it absorbs vital blood and nutrients from Nguyen Duy Hai’s body, making it weak.
Dr. McKay McKinnon agreed to waive his fee for the operation while the remaining costs of around VND 252million (around $12,000) has been raised by family and well wishers at home and abroad.
Nguyen Duy Hai’s family wept after being told he had survived the operation.
They had been anxious after an attempt to remove the tumour in 1997 was unsuccessful. Doctors had been forced to amputate Nguyen Duy Hai’s right leg below the knee.
Speaking before the operation Nguyen Duy Hai told Tuoitre News, a Vietnamese website: “It’s common for people to fear death, and I’m no exception.
“But when I heard Dr McKinnon had decided to come back to Vietnam one more time to give me a new life, I became more hopeful.”
Dr. McKay McKinnon successfully operated on a similar size tumour growing out of a Michigan woman in 1999.
He said this patient was older and in worse shape than Nguyen Duy Hai, but came through the operation and is now leading a normal life.
“She survived that surgery after 50 units of blood transfusion,” Dr. McKay McKinnon told Tuoitre News.
“She was in the hospital for about six weeks, and required physical therapy for about a year.”
Despite Nguyen Duy Hai’s operation being a success the healing process will not be an easy one.
An infection on the large open wound could easily kill him and he will later have to endure multiple skin grafts and reconstruction operations.
Nguyen Duy Hai will also be in intensive care for weeks and will then have to undergo physiotherapy for months.