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Teenage girl has 6 pound tumor removed from neck

September 19, 2013 3:12:04 PM PDT
A 13-year-old girl from Ethiopia is showing off her amazing results after having a six pound tumor removed from her neck on 9/11.

"I'm all good," said Aster Degano, 13-years-old.

Degano lived with a growing tumor in her neck that could, and should have been removed a lifetime ago.

"In the United States, this would've been diagnosed, probably about 12 years ago and it would've been taken care of at that time," said Dr. Milton Waner, of Lenox Hill Hospital.

But Aster and her family live in a remote village in southern Ethiopia, where there is no treatment for this type of benign tumor known as a teratoma.

Aster's tumor had grown to six pounds, displacing her jawbone and carotid artery.

"And there was probably a 30% narrowing of the trachea from just the compression already," said Dr. Lee Smith, of Cohen Children's Medical Center.

Not to mention the stigma, back in her village Aster was labeled as "evil".

"That was one of the reasons we didn't send her to school, because they were making fun of her, bullying her," said Astor's father through a translator.

Now, she is cured and also, had reconstructive surgery at the Cohen Children's Medical Center.

It all began when an anesthesiologist visiting Ethiopia first met Aster there. A CT scan was commissioned but it took three years of hard work, to bring her back here.

A non-profit group called the "Little Baby Face Foundation" helped facilitate the surgery.

And while Aster has certainly received an amazing gift, she is also teaching them a thing or two.

"Even brushing her teeth, they don't use toothpaste, they use bark from a tree, she has perfect teeth," said Diane Romo, of the Little Baby Face Foundation.

It's a smile that lights up a room and now she has the confidence to go with it.

"Now I know that I am beautiful and I am healed, and I like the way I am now," Aster Degano said.

For more information: http://www.littlebabyface.org/


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