Twelve pound tumor removed from man's face
CHICAGO, IL -- A man from Portugal is recovering from lifesaving surgery in Chicago.
Doctors at St. Joseph Hospital removed a 12-pound tumor that covered most of Jose Mestre's face.
Some of the video in this story may be difficult to watch.
After spending three months in Chicago and undergoing four facial surgeries at St. Joseph, Mestre talked to ABC7 through his translator.
"He finally has a chance to lead sort of a normal life because before he felt that, even though he never chose to, but he was the center of attraction wherever he went," said the translator.
They call him the man without a face. Mestre has lived most of his life with facial tumors that covered his mouth and tongue, leaving him blind in one eye and unable to breathe and sleep.
The nearly three-foot long vascular tumors had taken over his features. His sister has cared for him over the years and been with him throughout the surgeries. He says without her, he would not be alive.
"If you don't do nothing, he will die. Now, he has a new life," said Edith Abreu, sister.
Mestre underwent one surgery lasting several hours to remove the growths and three lengthy surgeries to reconstruct his face.
"No doctor wanted to operate on him, and so for him, it was, ever since the first operation, it was a happy ending already, because he never assumed that he would come out of here, you know, alive," said the translator.
One of the doctors at St. Joseph performed the surgery that no one else was willing to do.
"This may be the largest [tumor]...ever excised and because of that, it was very difficult to do it without deforming the face," said Dr. Ramsen Azizi, St. Joseph Hospital.
Mestre left the hospital Monday afternoon and in a few weeks he will return home to Portugal. The big question is what is next for him medically and how will he survive financially?
"In his case, it is going to be up to a year before we see how everything is going to turn out," said Dr. Azizzi.
"We going to support the family by helping them with their finances," said Sr. Clara Frances Kusek, Resurrection Health Care.
Any member of the public may donate to Jose and his family at any Illinois or Indiana Bank of America location. Tell the cashier at Bank of America to credit the donation to Saint Joseph Hospital F/B/O Edith Margarida Vaz de Abreu. It is important to use the correct account name. Only Bank of America locations in Illinois or Indiana are accepting donations right now.
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