Teenager’s ‘Pimple’ Grew Into 10-Pound Face Tumor, Will Undergo Surgery

A couple of years ago, 14-year-old Emmanuel Zayas had a pimple pop up on his face—just as many other teenagers going through puberty do. But, his turned out to be something much more serious. It never went away and in just a few short months it grew to be the size of a basketball, the Miami Herald reports.

Fortunately, the tumor is benign; however, it still causes Zayas to suffer from daily complications. The 10-pound mass makes it difficult for him to eat or breathe, according to WPLG, an ABC affiliate in Miami. It’s also so large that it has the potential to suffocate him. The young boy—who lives in Cuba—had little luck getting treatment in his home country, so his family has since traveled to the states to receive care at Jackson Memorial Hospital, located in Miami, Florida.

In January, Zayas will undergo a 10-hour procedure to remove the gigantic mass.

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“The length of surgery timewise has little to do with how people recover. It has to do with the blood loss,” Dr. Robert Marx, one of the four surgeons who will operate on Zayas, told WPLG. “We are being very careful to preserve any blood flow (and) tie off blood vessels that will get him to recover sooner.”

Although Zayas’s situation is rare, it’s not anything that Marx hasn’t seen. In fact, he’s operated on tumors larger than Zayas’s. About a decade ago, Marx helped to remove a 16-pound tumor from a Haitian woman’s face. The woman—named Marlie Casseus—suffered from the same condition as Zayas: polycystic fibrous dysplasia.

It’s a rare bone disorder which causes tissue to grow in spots where normal bone should be, according to Mayo Clinic. Those with severe cases of the condition can experience a number of complications, including bone deformity, vision and hearing loss, arthritis, and in rare instances, cancer. Although there’s no cure to the disorder, many people will take medication and receive surgery to help treat it.

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After Zayas receives his initial surgery, he will need multiple other procedures in order to help correct some of his facial features and to implant prosthetic teeth. His team of doctors are volunteering their time, the Miami Herald reports.

“We’re doing this because how can we not help this young man,” Marx said.