"Frank Must Die" boy to undergo revolutionary surgery

A 9-year-old boy with brain cancer, who gained international attention when his mother launched an online auction to pay for his biopsy, will undergo the surgery at no cost thanks to internationally renowned surgeon Hrayr Shahinian, M.D. of the Skull Base Institute.

Shahinian, who is one of a few surgeons in the world to specialize in a minimally invasive approach to skull base surgery known as endoscopy, will perform the procedure on David Dingman-Grover on Wednesday, February 2 at 8:30 a.m. at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Following surgery, tissue samples will be rushed to pathologists who are expected to determine whether or not the tumor is actively cancerous.

Dingman-Grover was diagnosed in May 2003 with a grapefruit-sized malignant skull base tumor and chemotherapy shrank it to the size of a walnut. His mother, Tiffani Dingman-Grover, turned to Shahinian when she learned that he offered an alternative to the traditional form of surgery known as a craniotomy. 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. David's case posed a particularly daunting challenge due to the tumor's location at the base of the skull in close proximity to his carotid artery, which supplies the blood to the brain.

David's story received international attention when his mother created a bumper sticker declaring that "Frank Must Die," a reference to the youngster's nickname for his tumor. After posting it on Ebay, the Dingman-Grovers were able to raise $40,000 to help defray medical costs not covered by insurance. After learning about Shahinian's minimally invasive approach to skull base surgery, she contacted the surgeon to see if he could evaluate David's case.

"I evaluated David's case and believed that he was an excellent candidate for endoscopic skull base surgery," said Shahinian. "After learning about the family's drastic efforts to raise funds for the procedure, however, I realized that I had to do all I could to help David. He truly is a remarkable young man and I will do everything in my power to help him and his family overcome this challenge."

In David's case, he will insert the endoscope through the nasal passage to reach the tumor. The procedure is simpler and safer to perform and David will experience a shorter hospital stay, reduced recovery time, decreased overall risk and a superior result with fewer complications.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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