(NEW YORK) — For Hai, 31, one high-risk surgery is the deciding factor between life and death. Yet this Vietnamese native is willing to take that chance if it means he will have the opportunity to walk again.
Hai suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that facilitates tumor growth on nerves in the body. He has been weighed down by a tumor that has been growing his entire life, rendering him bedridden for the past six years.
Despite having his leg amputated in his teens, the surgery failed to stop the tumor’s growth. Now, the tumor, which originates at the base of his spine, weighs 200 pounds – twice as much as Hai’s body weight.
Doctors in Vietnam gave Hai less than a year to life, but his friends and family have reached out to renowned plastic surgeon Dr. McKay McKinnon of Chicago, who has successfully removed life-threatening tumors from patients around the world to see if he can help save Hai.
Given the severity of Hai’s condition, he is unable to travel outside of Vietnam. As a result, Dr. McKinnon will make the journey to Ho Chi Minh City to perform a complicated surgery with a team he has never met before.
The surgery is the subject of TLC’s medical special, The Man With The 200 Lb. Tumor, which premieres Wednesday at 10 PM ET/PT on TLC.
During the trying 12-hour surgery, McKinnon hopes that he can successfully sever the tumor as close as possible to its point of origin without cutting any of Hai’s vital organs.
Since blood is shared between the patient and the tumor, it puts Hai at risk for drastic shifts in body weight, as well as dangerous blood and fluid shifts during the procedure, which may require multiple blood transfusions.
“I’m happy, but worried,” said Hai in the special. “If the surgery’s successful, I can walk. If it isn’t…Well, we all yearn to live.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Faith Heaton Jolley, KSL.com
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Michael H. O'Donnell, Idaho State Journal
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com