Ellis ordered an immediate MRI scan of Brandon’s skull and found an extremely large tumor, known as a teratoma, in the middle of his brain.
He operated two days later, but despite spending six hours in the operating room and going through half a dozen scalpels, he only managed to remove 20 percent of the tumor.
“In 15 years of doing neurosurgery, it really was the most difficult tumor that I ever encountered. It was very rubbery and hard to debulk,” he said.
“I wish I could demonstrate the firmness of the tumor that we were dealing with but it really was the case that after trying to dissect the tumor just five minutes with each scalpel, the scalpel would be dull and I would have to move on to use another scalpel.
“I went through at least a half-dozen of them, and even after many, many hours of operating on this tumor with multiple scalpels with multiple microsurgical-dissecting tools, I couldn’t remove very much of this tumor.”
“As I do every night, I read CNN online and immediately saw on the front page that there was an article in the health section entitled, From military device to life-saving surgical tool.
“I finished the rest of the story and my first thought was: I would have given anything to have this tool available six or seven hours ago based on the description in the story.
“Lasers have long been abandoned in neurosurgery,” he said, “because they were too cumbersome to use. But CNN spoke of a brain operation performed by a Dr. Bernard Bendok in Chicago with CO2 laser and this new easy-to-use, perfect mirror tool.”
The following day, on Christmas Eve, Ellis along with Dr. Tamir Wolf, a physician OmniGuide sent to assist, brought Brandon back to the operating room.
“After only 30 minutes, it was clear this laser device, as simple to use as a scalpel, was successfully debulking the tumor.”
Ellis operated on Brandon for four hours and managed to remove the remaining 80 percent of the tumor, by vaporizing it from the inside with the laser and then excising it.
“The boy was then extubated [removing the tube to his airway] after about 30 minutes and that same evening he was eating normally,” Wolf said.
Brandon has recovered his basic functions and is behaving normally.
Ellis added: “I think it’s an amazing story because it’s yet another demonstration of how interconnected we’ve become in this world.
“You have a CNN reporter in London, who writes a story about a neurosurgeon in Chicago, who’s using a device that was invented in Massachusetts, that story is read by a different neurosurgeon in North Carolina, and all within 72 hours, we have the device in North Carolina.
“We have the patient lined up for a surgery, and in the span of just a few days we perform really a life-saving operation on this patient.”