Fourteen-year-old Emanuel Zayas has faced health problems since he was a toddler.
When he began having problems with his left arm and leg, Zayas’s parents were told their 2-year-old son had polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, CBS Miami reports.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s no cure for the genetic bone disorder, which causes scar-like tissue to develop in place of normal bone. The irregular tissue can weaken the affected bone and cause it to deform or fracture.
Doctors were able to use medication to treat the boy’s disorder, but it continued to worsen as he grew.
The family was faced with another health scare when Zayas was 11 years old. His parents thought nothing of a bump that popped up on his nose. But it was more than a pimple.
It was a benign tumor diagnosed as an ossifying fibroma. The tumor didn’t stay the size of a pimple, though.
As it continued to grow for three years — to the size of a basketball, weighing approximately 10 pounds — it nearly covered the boy’s face, CBS Miami reported.
Doctors say he’s malnourished and can only manage to breathe through his mouth. And now, the way condition is affecting his facial structure threatens Zayas’s life.
According to CBS Miami, at a press conference, Dr. Robert Marx, chief of oral & maxillofacial surgery at UHealth-University of Miami Health System, explained:
“It’s life threatening by it’s (sic) very weight. If nothing is done it will cause a fracture of his neck or it will suffocate him from breathing just by its physical size.”
Marx offered to help the teenage boy — who’s from Cuba — when he found out the teen was suffering from the condition.
Zayas’s grateful mother, Melvis Vizcaino, also said at the press conference: “It is truly a miracle of God that his pictures ended in the hands of Dr. Marx.”
Marx and other doctors will gather at a Miami hospital in January to remove the tumor.
The plan is two-fold: January’s procedure will remove the tumor, which is expected to take 10 to 14 hours.
Then the teen will undergo a second surgery a few months later, in which bones from his hip will be used to reconstruct his upper jaw, nose, and part of his cheekbone.
Vizcaino showered praise on the Florida hospital for reaching out to help her child:
“I thank the Lord. I’m so glad the doors were open to come here. We’ve been helped by so many who don’t know us.”
Donations can be made to help with Zayas’s medical care through Jackson Health Foundation’s IKF Wonderfund.
See more about the boy’s health battle below.