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Doctors remove 60-pound tumor from man's leg without using blood transfusions

Posted at 10:07 PM, Dec 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-23 08:30:40-05

WARNING: The photos and video in this story contain graphic imagery

Doctors at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center performed a first-of-its-kind procedure that may have saved a San Clemente man's life.

Thirty-seven-year-old Matthew Qureshi, who has Down syndrome, first noticed a tumor on his thigh eight years ago. It quickly grew to 60 pounds and made walking almost impossible.

A family friend rigged a children's Razor scooter with a padded bench to rest the tumor on as Qureshi walked around.

Qureshi's mother, Anita, said doctors up and down the state would not perform the surgery to remove the tumor because they feared it would be unsuccessful. They also wouldn't be able to use blood transfusions, as the Qureshis are Jehovah's Witnesses and their beliefs forbid them from accepting blood.

Anita Qureshi almost gave up hope when she finally spoke with Dr. Anna Kulidjian at Moores Cancer Center. Kulidjian and a team of doctors developed a process to remove the tumor without giving Matthew Qureshi any blood.

The doctors had to suspend the tumor from the ceiling, using gravity to keep blood from leaving Qureshi's body.

"The first time I actually saw his leg with that thing gone … I was beyond happy," said Anita Qureshi.

No cancer was found inside the tumor, and Matthew Qureshi is undergoing physical therapy in San Diego County.

The procedure will be tried again on two more patients with smaller tumors before it is written up for the medical community.