A 14-year-old girl with an enormous rare tumour who was “abandoned” by her country’s health authorities has been saved by European doctors.
The young teen was “waiting to die” in her native Panama with no options to travel south to Colombia or north to the United States for specialised treatment.
This is the assessment of Alba R. Santos, director of the Olloqui Children’s Foundation, who helped to bring the girl to Spanish capital Madrid to be treated at the La Paz Hospital.
According to Alba, 14-year-old Andrea Nicolle Quijada’s case was “one of real abandonment” at the hands of Panamanian authorities.
Young Andrea was in constant agony with a huge tumour that was diagnosed as a paraspinal desmoid, usually considered benign because they rarely spread to different parts of the body.
According to reports, the tumour was around 30 centimetres (12 inches) in diameter.
Plastic surgeon at La Paz Hospital Juan Carlos Lopez Gutierrez told Central European News (CEN) that the “tumour was not malignant” but was “pressing against the girl’s spine” and affecting her “kidneys and aorta”.
Andrea was able to move around, but the tumour affected her walking and restricted the activities she was able to take part in, such as playing with her siblings.
According to Lopez Gutierrez, she had the tumour for four years. Panamanian doctors operated on her three times but the tumour kept on growing back and they finally concluded that it was “inoperable” and would reportedly only offer her palliative care.
Andrea has already undergone three operations at the Spanish hospital after she was first helped by a Panamanian journalist in her native country.
Luis Casis heard about the teen’s rare tumour and informed his friend Alba at the Madrid-based Olloqui Children’s Foundation.
Alba said that the girl was “abandoned” and “waiting to die”, adding that she said that the tumour was “getting worse and its smell was difficult to bear”.
When she travelled to Spain, Andrea reportedly wrapped the tumour to hide the awful stench.
Thanks to Casis, a Panamanian media campaign managed to raise 60,000 USD (45,700 GBP) in 48 hours to pay for Andrea’s travel costs and medical bill.
The 14-year-old has undergone three operations and is currently recovering in the Spanish capital at accommodation supplied by the foundation.
She is ready to return to Panama and will need to visit Madrid in the next six months for a check-up to see if the tumour has returned.