Without medical intervention, this little girl could have died, as a tumor was eating away her jaw. In desperation, her parents took to social media, and one man who had the ability to save her life took notice.
The parents of Melyssa Delgado Braga, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, were in desperate need of help for their 3-year-old daughter.
Shortly after her birth, Melyssa was discovered to have a benign tumor growing on her chin, and over the next few years, it steadily grew. The size of the tumor affected her daily activities such as eating and speech.
The growth of the tumor grew at an alarming rate where it began to affect her life. Additionally, Melyssa was constantly tired as the tumor was sapping her strength.
What a difference.(Warning: Graphic images)
Her parents, Carol and Manasses, became frustrated with the medical system, and with very little money, they could hardly afford expensive doctors’ fees.
The state hospitals were overcrowded and understaffed, and even getting an appointment had become difficult.
“We were desperate to save our daughter’s life,” Carol said, as reported by The Daily Express. “Surgeons in Brazil told us our Melyssa was going to die because the treatment they wanted to give her would be too much for her weakened immune system.”
She's undergone life-saving surgery to allow her to eat, talk and laugh for the first time.
After taking to social media in hopes of getting Melyssa to the United States for treatment, one man took notice of the little girl’s plight. That man was Dr. Celso Palmieri Jr., assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.
Palmieri became interested when he read about the little girl: “As I was reading more about her story, I realized our department could probably help her, and particularly Dr. Ghali and his department. I’ve seen him helping people so many times, so I took a screenshot of the child, and I texted it to him,” Palmieri said of his colleague Dr. G.E. Ghali to CNN.
He also contacted Shreveport’s Willis-Knighton Health System, a non-profit organization involved in hosting rare cases needing surgery in the United States. They agreed to cover the costs of both housing and hospital stay for the family.
The surgery would be long and painful, and the little girl would need the support and love of her parents to help her through.
A medical team agreed to do the operation for free after seeing a video of the family's plea on social media.
A month later, the family made the trip to the United States, where Melyssa was confirmed by Dr. Ghali as having a very rare and aggressive tumor called a “myxoma.”
“This is typically a benign tumor, non-cancerous, but it’s very locally aggressive,” he explained. “This tumor has pretty much eaten away her entire jaw from one side to the other and has displaced her tongue. (She’s) really unable to eat pretty well. She was on her way to be a pretty malnourished child.”
Surgeons at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Centre in Shreveport removed the fast-growing tumor from Melyssa’s jaw in an eight-hour operation in December 2016.
Ghali and the other surgeons involved offered to do the operation free of charge. After the operation, the tumor was found to weigh 5 pounds (approx. 2 kg). “When we were able to remove this tumor, the tumor weighed over 5 pounds on a child that probably doesn’t weigh more than 25 pounds herself, total weight,” Ghali said.
Her parents were relieved that Melyssa underwent the life-saving operation. “I am grateful for everything the doctors here have been able to do for my daughter and in only a short month,” said Manasses.
Although the battle for Melyssa to gain better health is still ongoing, at least she is now able to eat, talk, and laugh unimpeded.
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