Four-Pound Tumor Removed From Girl’s Face

The tumor doctor's removed from the girl's face was benign, but still threatened the girl's life because of its location.

15-year-old Hennglise Dorival traveled from Haiti to Virginia Beach, where doctors were able to successfully remove a four-pound tumor from the teen’s face, saving her life. The tumor was an ameloblastoma, which is a benign tumor, but it was threatening to suffocate Hennglise because of its rapid growth and its location in her maxillary sinus. The tumor on the teen’s face was so large, it was pressing on her brain. The facial tumor pushed her left eye so far inside her face that it lost function.

Hennglise was referred to Operation Smile’s World Care program. The program arranges for patients to travel to the U.S. to undergo treatment for complicated deformities such at Dorival’s ameloblastoma. Before the surgery, Hennglise said she was not nervous about getting the tumor removed from her face. “I want to look in the mirror and see I’m not the same,” she said, according to a press release on the Operation Smile website.

“She would have suffocated in the next six months, as [the tumor] would have completely obstructed her air flow,” Dr. William Magee, co-founder of Operation Smile, told Fox News. The tumor had been removed once, when an organization called the Community Coalition for Haiti, helped surgeons travel from the U.S. to Haiti to perform reconstructive surgery on Hennglise, but the tumor came back because it was not removed completely from the girl’s face during that initial surgery.

According to WVEC, Henneglise’s surgery lasted about 12 hours. She had an ophthalmologist, a neurosurgeon and two cranial facial specialists on her surgical team prepared to remove the tumor from her face. Because doctors couldn’t predict how exactly how much skin would be required during a future reconstructive surgery, surgeons decided to leave a bit of surplus skin on the girl’s face. The additional skin is only temporary but ensures better long-term results.

“We made an incision below the left eyelid, then around the side of her nose, then through her upper lip,” Magee explained. “Like an envelope, we opened up all the tissue from around that tumor. The tumor was attached to the upper jaw on the left … so we used a chisel to cut the bone. We dissected it around where the eyeball should be, and essentially enucleated this four-pound-plus tumor from her face.” The surgical team used a prosthesis to create an eye socket which was placed in the girl’s face, hoping some of the girl’s vision may be restored now that the four-pound tumor has been removed from her face. Hennglise and her mother will stay in the U.S. for another six months while surgeons complete minor procedures to return her face back to normal after the non-malignant tumor caused so much damage.

[Photo by Operation Smile]