4LB tumor removed patient doing fine
Local doctors remove Haitian mom's tumor
DAYTONA BEACH -- After the first look in the mirror without seeing a tumor coming out of her mouth in years, Lorette Pierre cried. It was pure relief -- and joy.
The 37-year-old mother of six children came to Halifax Health from a remote village in Haiti for medical rescue from a tumor threatening to suffocate her.
On Thursday, her first day out of the Daytona Beach hospital's intensive-care unit since the surgery Monday, her face was still puffy. But she was able to talk a little.
"How are you?" asked Dr. Vishtasb Broumand, a facial and oral surgeon who participated in the surgery.
"I'm good," Pierre said in Creole through an interpreter.
Surgery to remove the tumor -- and return a smile to her face -- lasted less than six hours, half the time surgeons expected. An incision was made from ear to ear. All her remaining teeth had to be removed.
But Dr. John Akers, another one of the surgeons, said the surgery went more quickly than planned because surgeons were able to stop the blood flow into the tumor. A previous attempt to remove the tumor in the Dominican Republic had to be stopped because of heavy bleeding. This time, radiological equipment temporarily sealed some of the blood vessels supplying the tumor's blood flow.
"It just peeled right off," said Akers, who practices with Broumand at Florida Oral & Facial Surgical Associates in Daytona Beach.
The medical rescue was the outgrowth of a trip several area physicians took to Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake devastated the island nation's capital city, Port-Au-Prince, killing hundreds of thousands. As the physicians prepared to leave at the end of their six-day relief mission, a chance encounter with another departing doctor from Texas revealed Pierre's urgent situation.
Florida Oral & Facial Surgical Associates has a nonprofit foundation, Operation Changing Lives, that funds charity cases both here and abroad -- particularly cleft palate operations in the Dominican Republic. Funds from there sent the doctors on their Haitian earthquake relief mission and got the ball rolling to bring Pierre to the United States for the surgery.
But many others -- hospital administrators, doctors and medical supply companies -- have also contributed to what could amount to $1 million in expenses.
Broumand said he felt blessed to have been able to make such a dramatic difference in another person's life.
"To have such a successful surgery and such an excellent result, I leave her room with a big smile," he said.
A big step comes Monday, when she'll be able to eat her new favorite food again: pizza. Judy Foster, who is interpreting for Pierre during her Florida stay, said she isn't sure whether Pierre is quite mentally prepared for the journey forward, which will involve more reconstruction and dental implants. But the biggest payoff has already arrived.
Foster said after Pierre cried at the sight of her new profile, she smiled.