Surgeons at Shanghai Children's Medical Center Tuesday successfully removed a huge 1.5-kilogram lump attached to the head of a 4-month-old boy.
The soft lump, which was 59 cm in diameter, was composed of liquid and tissue, and was the largest of its kind reported on a youngster in China.
Doctors say the weight of the lump, caused because the boy's spinal nerve endings had not formed properly, accounted for 30 percent of his body weight.
"We've never seen such a big lump on a baby. The size meant it was a big challenge for the neurosurgery team," said Dr Bao Nan, of the hospital's paediatric neurosurgery department.
Other risks came from the lump's close proximity to the brain and the young age of the baby.
Identified only as Xiaohai, the baby remained in a stable condition during the 5-hour operation and was reported to have good prospects yesterday.
From southwest China's Yunnan Province, Xiaohai was born with the lump on his head.
It had grown from the size of an egg to as big as the boy's head within four months. Looking from behind, he seemed to have "twin heads."
The huge and heavy lump has restricted the growth of the boy, who could not raise his head or sleep properly.
"He was in great pain and cried loudly if anyone touched the lump even very lightly," said his mother, Liu Yanfang, who works in the construction industry with her husband in Yunnan's capital, Kunming.
For the past four months, the mother always held the boy close to her chest, putting the right side of her son's head on her arm. "Only by doing this would he fall to sleep," she said.
"Local doctors told us that our boy couldn't have surgery until he was two years old. I was so worried seeing the lump grow day by day," said the mother.
The baby's fate changed when a warm-hearted foreign couple saw the boy in Kunming and took him for medical checks.
They then contacted the charity foundation Project Hope in Hong Kong. The foundation promised to pay for the US$2,500 surgery and contacted Dr Bao in Shanghai.
"My son's life was not saved by me, but by the foreign couple and the medical staff. I am so thankful to them," Liu told China Daily.
Besides removing the lump and unnecessary tissue, surgeons also repaired defected cranial bones with an implant. He could leave hospital in 10 days
"In the future, his brain will develop as normal," said Dr Bao.
"I never imagined my son could look like this," said father Suo Zhengfu, looking at his son sleeping peacefully in the general surgery ward.
(China Daily September 27, 2006)