A 13-year-old girl is recovering in New York after doctors removed a six-pound tumor from her neck.
Aster Degano flew from Ethiopia to New York for treatment after the U.S.-based nonprofit Little Baby Face Foundation helped to facilitate the surgery.
A U.S.-based anesthesiologist originally treated Degano in Ethiopia, but it took three years to get the teenager to America for treatment.
Aster suffered from a teratoma, a benign tumor, that is usually removed in developed countries after detection.
“In the United States, this would’ve been diagnosed, probably about 12 years ago, and it would’ve been taken care of at that time,” Dr. Milton Waner of Lenox Hill Hospital told ABC News station WABC-TV.
But because Aster and her family lived in a small village in Ethiopia, the tumor continued to grow into a six-pound mass that constricted her carotid artery, which supplies blood to the head and neck, and her trachea.
Although the tumor was benign, it affected her life before the surgery. Aster was called “evil” by people in her village and she had trouble speaking properly.
“That was one of the reasons we didn’t send her to school, because they were making fun of her, bullying her,” Astor’s father said through a translator.
Her tumor was removed during an eight-hour surgery at Lennox Hill Hospital Friday
After having her tumor removed and having reconstructive surgery, Aster and her family spoke to reporters through a translator. Aster said she is “all good” and smiled.
“Now I know that I am beautiful and I am healed,” she said, “and I like the way I am now.”