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10-year-old girl who survived bout with deadly brain tumor honored
World Renowned Surgeon Uses Groundbreaking Technique To Remove Nearly Entire Tumor

Against all odds, a world-renowned surgeon has successfully removed nearly the entire brain tumor that imperiled the life of 10-year-old Diana Herrera. The young El Paso, Texas resident, who traveled to Southern California with her parents and three siblings on Monday, underwent a revolutionary form of surgery Wednesday in which a micro-instrument known as an endoscope was inserted through her nasal passage to reach the malignant tumor. Hrayr Shahinian, M.D., medical director of the Skull Base Institute and pioneer of the groundbreaking procedure, exceeded his expectations by removing approximately 80 percent of the tumor, which is located in between the carotid arteries at the base of her skull -- perhaps the most delicate area of the brain. Herrera will be released from the Skull Base Institute (8635 West 3rd Street, Suite 1170W, West Tower) on Friday, July 15 at 1 p.m. at which time she will be honored with the "Courageous Kid Award" by Steven Firestein, founder of the nonprofit Kids Cancer Connection and a descendant of famed cosmetics innovator Max Factor.

"I am delighted to report that I was able to remove most of Diana's tumor and believe that she is on the road to a successful and healthy future," said Shahinian, who revealed that Herrera will begin receiving oral chemotherapy -- a much less severe form of treatment than the traditional intravenous method. "I am delighted that Diana is being presented with the 'Courageous Kid Award' as her spirit and determination to conquer this difficult life challenge is nothing short of inspirational."

Shahinian came to the attention of Diana's parents, Elvia and Miguel, thanks to the Internet. Miguel's sister, Maria Herrera, began the high tech pursuit of a qualified specialist after being told by other neurosurgeons that Diana's only alternative was the highly dangerous craniotomy, a 12-hour procedure that she very well may not have survived. This relatively barbaric procedure involves making an incision from ear to ear, pulling back the skin to expose the skull, sawing off the top portion to reach the brain and attempting to correct the abnormality in question. Shahinian's minimally invasive procedure is simpler and safer to perform and she is experiencing a shorter hospital stay, reduced recovery time, decreased overall risk and a superior result. While Shahinian originally thought he would only be able to remove 50 percent of the tumor due to its precarious position, he exceeded his expectations by removing nearly the entire tumor. He will be working with Herrera's team of oncologists in El Paso and keep a steady eye on her recovery in the coming weeks ahead.

"We are forever grateful to Dr. Shahinian and his team for giving our daughter a new lease on life," exclaimed Miguel Herrera. "We believe that Diana will overcome this devastating disease, which has affected our entire family."

Herrera's plight started at the age of 9 when she began suffering severe headaches and growing intensely light sensitive. Her face started swelling and her parents noticed that her eyes would roll to one side. Physicians in her hometown originally misdiagnosed her as suffering from a sinus disorder, but mounting pain led to an MRI scan, where it was discovered that she had a malignant brain tumor. She has since endured 23 sessions of chemotherapy. Despite her health challenges, she still managed to graduate from the fourth grade and wants to "get better" so that she can return to school in the fall.

Shahinian's use of endoscopy is leading to a paradigm shift in the field of medicine despite some opposition from traditionalists who are holding on to long-established practices and are resistant to change. Had the Herrera family opted for the craniotomy, a course of action most surgeons would have recommended, the youngster would have been considerably more vulnerable to brain damage, infection and a host of other adverse side effects and possibly even death. To date, Shahinian and his world-class team of surgeons, neurologists, endocrinologists and other medical professionals have treated more than 2,000 patients using advanced endoscopy.