By CLIFF WARD
Ed Port of Austintown was in recovery after a marathon surgery Wednesday at a Chicago hospital to remove a large tumor from his head and face caused by a genetic disorder.
Port, 40, who suffers from neurofibromatosis, underwent a 12-hour operation that ended about 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
“Ed’s out of surgery, and he’s in the recovery room right now,” St. Joseph Hospital spokesperson Margo Schafer said Wednesday night. “Apparently, everything went fine.”
The lengthy procedure included removing a portion of Port’s skull to be used in conjunction with a titanium plate to rebuild the facial features around his left eye and cheek, which have been disfigured by the disease.
He was scheduled to spend about 24 hours in the intensive-care unit at the hospital on Chicago’s north side before continuing to convalesce there in a regular hospital room.
Port had flown to Chicago on Sunday afternoon, one of the final steps toward a potentially life-altering operation that required finding a surgeon willing to take on his case and securing health insurance to help defray some of the cost.
The day before the surgery, Port said he was not frightened by the prospects of the lengthy operation, though his doctor had advised him of potential risks, including the possibility of a stroke.
“I’m not really scared — I’m more anxious,” Port said Tuesday. “It’s been a long time coming.”
His surgeon, Dr. McKay McKinnon, is a well-regarded plastic surgeon who is willing to take on the most complex cases, Schafer said Tuesday.
“Ed’s in very good hands,” she said.
Port was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis as a child and underwent numerous surgeries, but he has not been able to afford treatment in recent years and has been stymied in his attempts to get insurance to pay for what had been deemed “comestic” surgery.
But Port said the tumors have taken a greater toll than merely altering his appearance.
“My hearing has been drastically affected, and my eyesight has been drastically affected,” he said.
His left eye is completely covered by the tumor, but Port said Tuesday he was buoyed by an Ohio eye doctor’s recent prognosis that the eye may yet retain some function.
If all goes to plan, he may return to Chicago for additional surgeries, with the next coming in about eight weeks. Port said he was not able to visit any Chicago museums before surgery as he had planned, but did enjoy a pasta dinner at a city restaurant famous for its deep-dish pizza.
“It was fabulous,” he said.