updated 4/22/2008 8:44:12 PM ET 2008-04-23T00:44:12

A Vietnamese girl with a 16-pound facial tumor is in Miami awaiting surgery that will restore her ability to eat and speak.

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Fifteen-year-old Lai Thi Dao suffers from a Schwannoma tumor that has been growing since she was 3. The tumor has severely disfigured her face and kept her from ever attending school.

Doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital say the tumor threatens to suffocate Lai. They will remove it in a 10-hour surgery on April 29.

Schwannoma tumors are usually benign. Lai's doctors say the size of her tumor is extremely rare, but it probably won't return once it's removed.

The teen hopes to finally attend school once she recovers and returns to Vietnam.

The International Kids Fund, which helps foreign children with urgent health needs, is seeking donations to pay for the surgery.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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