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Teen with Basketball-Sized Tumor on Face Dies from Complications of Removal Surgery

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Emanuel Zayas, a 14-year-old boy who recently underwent surgery to have a 10-pound tumor removed from his face, has died. The teenager traveled from Cuba with his parents to have the benign mass removed on January 12, but the stress of the operation was too much for him, and he passed away on Friday.

Zayas suffered from a rare condition, polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, which meant that his body produced scar-like tissue instead of bone. The tumor began small, on the boy’s nose, but grew to be the size of a basketball. Although it wasn’t malignant, it was so heavy that doctors feared it would suffocate him or break the bones in his neck.

“The physiological stress of the surgery was apparently too much for his compromised anatomy,” Dr. Robert Marx, chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery for the University of Miami Health System, said in a statement to the Herald. “Our hopes of saving his life, and with that allowing him a better quality of life, were not realized.”

Dr. Marx first learned of Zayas’s case when he attended a conference where missionaries presented photos and x-rays of the tumor.

The teenager’s family has decided to donate Zayas’s body to science to further the study of polyostotic fibrous dysplasia.