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Surgery on 176-Pound Tumor Is Succeessful

January 22, 2004 GMT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ A woman was reported in stable condition Thursday after doctors removed a 176-pound benign tumor in an eight-hour operation.

Lucica Bunghez ``felt free after the tumor was removed,″ said Dr. Ioan Lascar, who teamed with Dr. McKay McKinnon, a plastic surgeon from Chicago, and 12 other doctors in Wednesday’s operation.

It took less time than expected because the tumor was symmetrical, allowing for two teams of surgeons to work simultaneously, he said.

Bunghez, 46, suffered from neurofibromatosis, or NF, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that causes disfiguring tumors to form on nerves throughout the body.

Her tumor covered much of her back and ran halfway down her thighs. Without it, she weighs 88 pounds, doctors said. The growing tumor had absorbed blood and nutrients from her body like a giant parasite.

A former cake seller from the Transylvanian city of Brasov, Bunghez has been bedridden and unable to care for herself for three years. She still will need to undergo a skin reconstruction operation.

McKinnon offered his services for free after the Romanian government said it could not afford the $300,000 needed for Bunghez to have treatment in the United States.

In 2000, McKinnon successfully removed a 200-pound tumor caused by the same disorder from Lori Hoogewind, of Wyoming, Mich., in an 18-hour operation that drew worldwide attention.