A chance sighting on a mission trip has saved a young boy's life. A large tumor was growing on the side of his face and doctors in Haiti had no way to help.
But a woman who visited his village on a mission trip in January got word to doctors at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, who took on the surgery through their international aid outreach program and at no cost to the family.
"God put me in Haiti for a reason, and I believe it was to find Remilson," said the woman, Ann Jackson, speaking about the boy.
The tumor on the side of 12-year-old Remilson's face was making it hard for him to breathe, which caused him problems with sleeping and at school.
Six months ago, Vanderbilt doctors started working with doctors in Haiti.
"And communicating via Skype and email to really get a sense of what the problems were, and what needed to be done to help," said Dr. Steven Goudy, at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
Jackson's family took care of travel plans, and her 8-year-old daughter even raised funds for passports and visas.
"She actually raised $2,000 by selling cupcakes we made on a Friday night," Jackson said.
By the time the boy and his family arrived to Nashville, the tumor was growing again.
"It's roughly the size of my two fists or the size of a grapefruit," said Dr. Edward Penn, at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
Finally, the surgery took place Monday as four specialists removed the tumor and reconstructed Remilson's nasal passage in a 10-hour operation.
"I think, with the location close to the eye, and with the location close to blood vessels around the back, and the throat and other sinuses, it was definitely life threatening," Penn said.
Doctors are now keeping an eye on his breathing, but they say Remilson will heal.
The boy will have to stay in the hospital for another week, but it will take up to a year for his bone structure to reform and all of the scarring to heal.
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