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10-year-old girl racing against time in fight against brain tumor
Youngster To Undergo New Endoscopic Procedure; Life-Saving Surgery Scheduled For 7/13

A 10-year-old girl is racing against time in her fight against a malignant brain tumor located between the carotid arteries at the base of her skull -- perhaps the most delicate area of the brain. The youngster, Diana Hererra of El Paso, Texas, is traveling to Los Angeles with her parents, Elvia and Miguel, to undergo a revolutionary form of brain surgery by pioneering skull base surgeon Hrayr Shahinian, M.D. of the Skull Base Institute. Shahinian, the nation's foremost skull base surgeon, will perform the life-saving surgery on Wednesday, July 13 at 8:30 a.m. using a state-of-the-art endoscopic technique that he pioneered to remove 50 percent of her tumor via her nostril. (The entire tumor cannot be removed at one time due to its precarious position.) Immediately following the procedure, tests will be run to determine if additional chemotherapy treatments will be effective or if a second surgery will be necessary.

Because of Shahinian's technique, Hererra will not have to endure a traditional craniotomy, a relatively barbaric procedure that 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. The new minimally invasive procedure is simpler and safer to perform and she will experience a shorter hospital stay, reduced recovery time, decreased overall risk and a superior result with fewer complications.

Shahinian revealed that he is confident that the tumor can be removed safely and the girl will, most likely, go home in as little as one to two days after all necessary procedures have been completed.

"This young lady has demostrated remarkable strength in the face of such adversity and has shown tremendous resolve," said Shahinian.

"We have every confidence that Dr. Shahinian and his team will give our daughter a new lease on life," added Miguel Hererra. "My wife and I, as well as our entire family, are forever grateful to him for using his unique skills to save our daughter's life."

Hererra'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 and it was later 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 Hererra 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. It is thanks to the girl's aunt, who conducted an Internet search and discovered Shahinian's groundbreaking work, that Hererra is undergoing the most hopeful option for saving her life. 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.