Doctors at a hospital in Bengaluru have successfully removed a 3.5 kg crippling tumour from a 15-year-old girl’s neck. Extending from her neck onto her chest, the benign tumour which had affected Surbhi Ben’s life for more than a decade is identified by the doctors as fibromatosis. A team of 21 doctors at Aster CMI Hospital performed the surgery to remove the football-sized tumour stuck on her neck. She is now able to resume her life normally, according to the hospital statement on Tuesday.
Born in an underprivileged family of farm labourers in Amreli district of Gujarat, Surbhi Ben was still a toddler when her parents first noticed the lumps around her face that have since then engulfed her neck, making her social pariah of sorts.
Over the years, her family had approached several doctors in and around Amreli district where many of them had suggested that the tumour cannot be excised upon at local hospitals and recommended her to approach hospitals in metro cities.
The treatment involved surgeries and injection sclerotherapy which were quite expensive, the hospital statement said.
Due to the prevailing economic condition of the family, they were unable to bear the cost of the treatment and pinned all their hopes on a miracle that could gift their child a new life.
Explaining her plight, Surbhi said she was unable to go anywhere because of the tumour and had to drop out of school a year ago due to the immense pain in her neck while doing my homework or an assignment.
“Even while stepping out, I had to cover myself and unlike other girls, I could not wear normal clothes and dresses due to the ailment. I often used to ask my mother, why am I the only one who is suffering and there were several moments where I used to feel hopeless and frustrated”, she said.
Despite her crippling ailment, Surbhi had an optimistic outlook and wanted to resume her schooling to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher.
Fortunately for her, hope soon arrived in the form of a few well-wishers — the ‘NewsLions’ helped facilitate the treatment along with ‘Milaap’ and raised over Rs 70 lakh through a crowdfunding effort to provide her with this life-changing surgery of multiple sittings over last one year. Once the funds were arranged through Milaap, the family then reached out to Aster CMI Hospital, where the team of doctors and surgeons worked for several months to remove the growth from her neck.
Speaking about the complications involved in Surbhis surgery, Consultant – Paediatrics & Paediatric Intensive Care, Aster CMI Hospital, Chetan Ginigeri said there were three tumours present in her throat and that was intertwined with the nerves of her neck, which made her surgery extremely
Consultant – Surgical Oncology, Girish G said the case had extensive involvement of structures in the neck going to upper torso both within and out of the thoracic cavity.
“The case was also immensely critical as the tumour had grown in the neck region where all the essential structures of life are located and hence we had to take extra precautions during the surgery”, Girish said.
“Presently she is fine, tolerating oral diet with no breathlessness and talking comprehensively. We overcame challenges in treating her successfully
through a multi-disciplinary approach”, he added.
Lead and Senior Consultant – Plastic Surgery, Madhusudan G said the complete removal of the tumour posed a challenge of wound cover over the big blood vessels of the neck, exposed to a sternum which was as large as 20 x 18 cms.
Lead Consultant – CTVS Surgery, Ganeshakrishnan Iyer said: “This was a very extensive tumour growing in front and behind the sternum (breast bone). Hence the difficulty involved in removing the tumour from the front of the chest and then cutting open the breast bone was very challenging as the tumour was also stuck to the chest wall on the inside.”
President and Co-founder of Milaap, Anoj Viswanathan, said,”The powerful visual impact of the images on the fundraiser page and the video Milaap shot for Surbhis fundraiser accelerated the fundraising process.”
The video had over a million views on Facebook and was shared more than 1000 times.
Over 6200 donors from all over the world united for this cause on Milaap.
Expressing her joy on the successful recovery of her daughter, Surbhi’s mother Rekha said: “We are seeing a new, beautiful, bubbly and bold Surbhi, thanks to all my brothers and sisters who contributed to her life-changing treatment”.
“Your kind gesture towards a stranger has reinstated my faith in humanity. She is now leading a normal life, freely riding her bicycle, playing with friends in the neighbourhood and doing her studies, without being subjected to any humiliating remarks from onlookers,” she said.
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