A surgical procedure that took a team of 16 experts 14 hours to complete, saved the life of this Filipino woman who had a potentially fatal and massive tumor completely removed from her face.
As a young, pregnant woman, Mary Jane Gallon developed a tumour on her face that expanded at an alarming rate. The cancerous growth was not there in 2013, but by the end of 2014, it had already completely overtaken more than half of her mouth. As she became increasingly disfigured, Gallon became too ashamed to be seen in public.
Before, I am always hiding, I am always in my home, I did not want to go outside,”
Worried that the tumour would prove fatal, Gallon sought help from the staff at St. Vincent’s public Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. And while tests confirmed that it was actually benign, doctors were afraid that if it continued to grow, it would soon hinder Mary Jane from eating and breathing. According to lead surgeon, Wayne Morrison,
The tumour was massive when we were first confronted, and apparently it had been rapidly growing. It wasn’t far off actually obstructing the airway and preventing her breathing.”
The operation, which was partly funded by the hospital’s staff, took 14 hours and involved a team of 16 experts. Three surgical teams, including anaesthetics, head and neck specialists, and microsurgeons were all working on Gallon at the same time.
The tumour itself took only two hours to remove – it was delicately reconstructing her face afterwards that took most of the time. The surgeons removed the thin bone from her lower leg – called the fibula – and reshaped it to make a replacement jaw. They transplanted veins and arteries from Gallon’s leg and arm to ensure the blood flow resumed in her newly reconstructed face.
The head and neck team also had to do a tracheostomy so that Mary Jane could breathe, knowing that her face and neck would be quite swollen after the surgery. Now, just a few weeks after her surgery, her recovery is amazing.
On all front we’re very pleased. Mary Jane is certainly very pleased, and visually, it’s pretty spectacular, I have to say, compared to what we started with,” said Morrison.
For Mary Jane’s family in the Philippines, had an incredible relief.
I can see that there is a light in my future now. … Now I’m happy.”
via Science Alert