Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Tumor Was Eating Before He Was

Thanks to Warren Ellis. This article from the San Francisco Chronicle is about a man with a 25-pound tumor in his liver:

Wren, the chief of general surgery at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs hospital, had always thought she would be able to deprive the tumor's arteries of their blood supply during surgery. But tests showed that such a strategy would make the surgery even riskier and make the 63-year-old Berkeley man's chances of survival far lower than the 50 percent she had expected.

"His tumor had arteries in it that were bigger than his liver's artery," Wren said. "It looked like a 20-pound turkey sitting in there..."

Although Frick's weight of about 180 pounds was fairly normal for a man 6 feet tall, Wren said he was malnourished. And instead of having the normal 6 pints of blood, his body had less than 4.

"The tumor was eating before he was," she said. "It was a giant parasite..."

Nine hours, 18 pints of blood and hundreds and hundreds of stitches later, the tumor was removed, and the surgery was declared a success. Wren said the cancer had not spread to other parts of Frick's body, and she believes the team got all of it.

But Frick still needed to be in intensive care for 12 days. His brother remembers how bad he looked during some of the early visits.

"There wasn't anything that didn't have a tube," Wesley Frick said. When he asked his brother how he felt, "he just made a slight, very nasty, hand gesture..."

Now the odds are very strong that Frick will be going home today. He leaves the hospital with a clear vision of what he wants for his life.

A crumb doughnut...

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