A Vietnamese girl having a 15-pound tumor on her face and neck is due to undergo surgery in the US.
The gigantic tumor, which began to grow in 15-year-old Dao Thi Lai when she was just three, covers a large part of her face and neck and threatens to make her blind and block her throat, according to doctors at the University of Miami who will oversee the surgery.
The young girl arrived in the United States with her mother in hopes of ridding herself of the growth that has already severely deformed her face and put her life at risk.
"Schwannoma tumors are not highly uncommon. However, the size of Lai's tumor is extremely rare and is possibly the largest ever reported," said Jesus Gomez, oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, where the surgery is scheduled for April 29.
Schwannoma tumors, which are tissue growths which cover nerves, are usually not cancerous and once removed rarely return, according to medical experts.
But "without surgery, Lai faces a life journey that will unfortunately end too soon because the rapid growth of the tumor will eventually impair her ability to breathe," Gomez said.
Lai was forced to drop out of school, and these days can only perform minor tasks. Even everyday activities such as eating, drinking, sleeping and walking have become difficult.
Her plight in Vietnam caught the attention of the International Kids Fund (IKF), which launched a fundraising campaign to cover the 107,000 dollars in expected costs for the operation in the United States.