BAY SHORE, N.Y. -- In an amazing story of recovery, doctors removed a tumor the size of a basketball from a Long Island man's abdomen.
The 43-year-old patient from Central Islip had no idea it was there, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.
Life was going well for Margarito Banos, a beloved father of four and carpenter, until a meal of pork chops sent him to the hospital with what he thought was an upset stomach.
Instead, doctors at South Shore University Hospital found a rare liver tumor silently growing to the size of a basketball.
"From that day, my life, it changed," Banos said.
It was a neuroendocrine tumor, fueled by hormones, growing out of control. The massive tumor was lethally crowding Banos' stomach.
Removing two-thirds of a liver is extremely risky. Interventions to shrink it didn't work. Banos was in organ failure.
"Everybody I asked with experience, they told me I was not going to make," Banos said.
"This tumor was slowly killing him. He was being considered for hospice and we had a very honest discussion with each other about making a heroic attempt to try to get this tumor out," said Dr. Gary Deutsch, surgical oncology director at South Shore University Hospital. "Fortunately, we can live with 25, 30 percent of our liver, if it's healthy."
In a complex, eight-hour surgery, Deutsch removed 70 percent of the liver containing the massive five-pound, slow-growing cancerous tumor.
"He saved my life, completely," Banos said.
Overcome with emotion, Banos knows it took a decade to get to this size and will slowly grow back. But he's grateful it can be managed and the healthy liver will regenerate.
"Everything is going to be OK in my life. That's what I hope and God is always with me," Banos said.
Banos' liver has quickly regenerated to normal functioning. Doctors said this second lease on life will bring decades of good health ahead.
Neuroendocrine tumors occur in 12,000 patients in the U.S. per year.
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