Girl goes home after "miracle" surgery

March 10, 2009 3:42:00 PM PDT
A seven-year-old girl from Long Island headed home from the hospital today after a daring, high-risk surgery to save her from cancer.

A little more than four weeks ago she underwent an operation to remove a very large tumor, that also required surgeons to remove 6 major organs.

When Heather McNamara and her parents were introduced Tuesday morning, she was as happy and as lively as any other seven-year-old despite the fact she underwent 23 hours of surgery last month.

That surgery required doctors to remove six major organs - the stomach, spleen, pancreas, liver, and big and small intestings. Most of them were put back in place. Doctors say that was the only way to get to the previously inoperable tumor.

The cancer had spread so far the little girl's stomach, spleen, and pancreas couldn't be saved, but doctors made a new stomach for her, by creating a pouch in her intestines.

The surgery was so risky, the little girl's father was on standby to be a live organ donor for a liver.

Dr. Tomoaki Cato, of New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital said, " We were under pressure, because if we can't do this, she didn't have much left."

Surgeons lifted out heather's stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver, and small and large intestines.

This was only the second time this surgery was ever performed, but the first on a child.

Her parents say the doctors at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, gave them hope and gave them back Heather.

"The most amazing experience of all, is knowing that she just wasn't a patient, they cared...It was all about Heather," said Tina McNamara.

The little girl, dressed in bright pink, seemed at ease in front of the cameras, "Thank you doctor Cato, and the hospital," she said, looking right into the throng of news media.

Her mother asked, "What are you going to do now?"

Heather responded, "Play witrh my dog Angel and my sister."

Heather will have to take insulin, and get supplements from a pump she wears in a backpack, but she is eating normal food, and headed back to school soon.

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