Valley teen graduates one year after rare brain surgery

May 29, 2014, 4:23 PM | Updated: 4:23 pm

PHOENIX — A Valley teen graduated from high school on Thursday, nearly a year after having a unique surgery to remove a tumor in his brain.

In late 2012, Maverick Almendarez began suffering severe nosebleeds, shortness of breath and vision loss. Initially, doctors thought he might have been suffering from severe allergies, but an MRI and CT scan later revealed his symptoms were actually being caused by a large, benign tumor at the base of his skull.

“It would cause a lot of bleeding and I would just wake up coughing, blood on the wall (and) on my hands,” Almendarez said. “So I was always really tired when I went to school, (and) I usually felt like a zombie.”

The severe symptoms even forced Almendarez to stop going to school briefly, he said.

Everything changed for Almendarez though, when he sought help at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix where a team of doctors, including surgeon Andrew Little, worked to remove the tumor by going through his nasal cavity.

“The advantage is that we don’t make any incisions on the outside of the face,” said Little. “Compared to the old technique where we made an incision from ear to ear and often had to, in essence, peel the forehead down.”

While going through the nasal cavity is much more difficult and not everyone is a candidate for that type of surgery, Little said, the surgery can be much less invasive and results in less recovery time and leaves the patient without external scarring.

One year after the surgery that removed the entire tumor, Almendarez said he is symptom-free and graduating on time from Glendale High School and will be heading to college. Almendarez said his experience has also changed his career focus and now said he wants to work in the medical field.

“Yes, this did inspire me to be in the medical field,” he said. “Ever since I entered high school it was either three things: engineer, lawyer or doctor…and then after surgery it was definitely being a doctor.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation)...
KTAR.com

ASU receives $5.5M in funding to help fill nursing needs

Arizona State University was awarded over $5 million to pay tuition and fees for 104 students, the school announced. 
7 hours ago
(El Mirage Police Department Photos)...
KTAR.com

3 arrested after house tied to human smuggling in El Mirage was targeted

Three people were arrested and a man is dead after a home tied to a human smuggling operation in El Mirage was targeted on Saturday.
7 hours ago
Follow @KTAR923...
KTAR.com

Glendale firefighter honored for life-saving effort by city of Surprise

A Glendale firefighter was honored Monday for life-saving actions he made last August, the city of Surprise announced.
7 hours ago
(Google Maps Photo)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix developer plans to build commerce park in Casa Grande

A Phoenix-based developer recently purchased a 24-acre parcel in Casa Grande and plans to build a commerce park on it.
7 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/@ArizonaDOT)...
KTAR.com

Southbound Interstate 17 reopens in Phoenix after crash

The southbound lanes of Interstate 17 in Phoenix reopened Monday night after a crash temporarily halted traffic.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)...
KTAR.com

Pair of lottery tickets sell in the Valley for $50K, $40K over the weekend

Two lucky people in the Valley have winning numbers with the Arizona Lottery from over the weekend. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Valley teen graduates one year after rare brain surgery