When John Ippolito, the lead radiology tech at Prime Diagnostic Imaging in Dallas, asked Alex Largent to help him test out some new MRI software, he didn’t expect that simple favor would save his friend’s life.
The day before Thanksgiving, Largent, a Fort Worth, Texas, e-commerce operations manager, went to Prime Diagnostic for tests on his back, because of pain he thought was brought on by childhood sports.
Ippolito asked to do a few scans using software that examined the brain’s nerve activity.
During the first scan, Ippolito said he thought he saw something — a mass beyond Largent’s right eye.
“I didn’t want to alarm him in any way,” he said. “I was extremely alarmed. He was completely asymptomatic. He didn’t have headaches. No blurred vision. And he’s young. It was pretty alarming.”
He suggested that Largent, 28, a friend for 10 years, see a neuro-optomologist. Largent did and returned to Prime Diagnostic for a more in-depth scan.
“Everything was surreal,” he said. “They didn’t know what it was. They just called it a mass. It could’ve been a number of things. A cyst. A tumor. I didn’t want to get too much into a panic.”
The mass, a little smaller than a golf ball, was eventually determined to be a brain tumor.
After he was referred to a neurosurgeon, Largent said he told his family and friends.
“It was a ‘Hey, this is what they found — nothing to freak out about,’” he said. “I never had headaches. I never had any vision issues. No speech issues. I should have had tingling. It was very amazing. I had zero symptoms.”
On Jan. 12, he had brain surgery to have the tumor removed at Medical City Dallas Hospital.
“He was just afraid,” Ippolito said. “He was extremely worried. I think it hit him right before he went into surgergy.”
Dr. Caetano Coimbra, a neurosurgeon, operated on Largent. He said Largent was a “very special case.”
“His tumor is in a silent area of the brain, where it’s not responsible for any critical function,” Coimbra said.
He said that even though Largent had a low-grade tumor, in 10 years, it could have grown larger, begun to press on the brain and become incredibly difficult to remove.
Coimbra said there was no particular cause.
“He could have gone 10 years without knowing about it,” the doctor said. “I cannot tell him that in 10 years, this won’t come back.”
Largent said that two friends had gotten MRIs of their heads and that his sister and a brother planned to be checked.
He said the incident had made him and Ippolito closer.
“Do I say he saved my life? Definitely,” Largent said. “How many friends save their friend’s lives?”
Ippolito said it was fate.
“I’m extremely happy,” he said. “I think it’s miraculous.”