Image: Lai Thi Dao
Wilfredo Lee  /  AP file
Fifteen-year-old Lai Thi Dao waves to members of the media as she leaves Jackson Memorial Medical Center on April 22 in Miami.
updated 4/30/2008 9:41:10 AM ET 2008-04-30T13:41:10

A Vietnamese girl is finally free of a disfiguring 16-pound (7-kilogram) facial tumor, after a surgery that lasted at least 12 hours in Miami.

The Schwannoma tumor had consumed the lower half of 15-year-old Lai Thi Dao's face. It had been growing since she was 3 and eventually accounted for roughly one-third of her body weight.

Doctors at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center tell The Miami Herald that Lai's tumor was one of the largest ever reported. The growth had threatened to cut off her airway.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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