By Denise Dick
Since undergoing multiple surgeries to remove tumors that obscured much of his face, Ed Port is more outgoing and laughs more easily, according to a close relative.
“He laughs now, too,” said Susanne Dietrich of Ashtabula, Port’s aunt. “He didn’t laugh too much before.”
Port, 42, is in Chicago after his fourth surgery last week to remove tumors caused by neurofibromatosis.
Speaking from his hotel room, Port said the six-hour surgery went well.
Plastic surgeon Dr. McKay McKinnon implanted a titanium plate in Port’s left cheekbone to make it more uniform with the right side. The doctor used a couple of small pieces from the back of Port’s skull to push his left eye out and hold it up.
Part of the left cheekbone and left orbital bone were eroded by the tumors. Dr. McKinnon also removed smaller nodules from Port’s neck and the back of his head.
The largest tumors were removed during Port’s first two surgeries. He expects as least one more operation to extract smaller masses in different areas of his body.
“There’s surprisingly significant function of the eyelid, which is phenomenal,” Port said.
Dr. McKinnon removed some of the scar tissue from his bottom eyelid to improve the appearance.
Port returns to see the doctor Monday and will make plans to return to the Mahoning Valley after that.
Dietrich is thrilled with the results of her nephew’s surgeries.
“There’s a wonderful difference,” she said. “Each time Dr. McKinnon does a surgery, more of the tumors come off.”
But that’s not the only difference she sees. “He’s becoming more and more outgoing,” Dietrich said.
Other people are more accepting of him, too.
“It’s unfortunate, but when you have disfigurement, people are going to look at you and stare,” she said. “They’re going to talk under their breath, and they’re going to go the other way.”
Port has experienced that a lot. The tumors started when he was young, inviting ridicule from other children.
He underwent several surgeries as a boy only to see the tumors return. As an adult, Port struggled to find an insurance company that would cover the needed operations. Representatives told him his condition was cosmetic, Port has said.
Since the surgeries performed by Dr. McKinnon, people are responding differently to Port.
“God has a plan for that young man, and he’s going to be OK,” Dietrich said.