Infection slows face surgery for Ed Port

By Denise Dick


The township man in the midst of realizing his long-awaited miracle has encountered a couple of complications along the way.

Ed Port, who was born with Neurofibromatosis Type 2, a genetic disorder that causes large tumors, underwent the second of at least three surgeries in October to remove the masses that obscured the left side of his face.

He’s been recuperating at his maternal aunt’s Ashtabula County home since his release from the hospital.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Port, 41.

The first surgery, in June, was the most extensive, but Port’s recovery became complicated after the second procedure.

Last week, his aunt, Susanne Dietrich, noticed that the incision behind his ear looked red and infected. Port called Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. McKay McKinnon, who performed the surgery. Dr. McKinnon urged him to go to the emergency room.

Doctors there removed the packing from the wound, flushed it out and repacked it, telling him to return in a couple of days. When he did, the black color of the packing removed from the wound concerned the doctor.

“He ordered a CAT scan to make sure the infection hadn’t spread to my brain,” Port said. “If it had spread, he said they would life-flight me to the Cleveland Clinic. It was nerve-wracking.”

Tests showed the infection was localized and doctors administered antibiotics.

Port returned to Chicago this week to see Dr. McKinnon.

“He said it’s healing up much better, and I go back in two weeks for an evaluation,” he said.

All of the hotel fees and airline flights are starting to add up. He’s been relying on donations from fundraisers to cover those costs, but that money is running low.

He hopes for more fundraisers next year.

Port established his Ed Needs a Miracle website a few years ago, when he was unable to find an insurance company to cover the surgeries he needed. Companies told him the surgeries were cosmetic even though the tumors limited the vision in his left eye and the hearing in his left ear.

Before insurance, Port’s most recent hospital bills top $136,000.

Port expects at least one more surgery to manipulate his left cheekbone to make it more uniform with the right. That operation hasn’t been scheduled.

“He wants to wait for the infection to clear up, and then he’ll probably want another MRI,” the township man said.

Subsequent surgeries may be required after the third.

“He’s talked about removing the tumors on the back of my head and one on my side,” Port said. “There’s also a small one — about the size of a nickel — sitting right on my sternum. It’s been there about 15 to 16 years. The only good thing is it hasn’t gotten any bigger. He talked about removing that as well.”

Before his next trip to Chicago, Port must go to a wound- care center every two to three days to have the wound flushed and repacked.

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