In a scene that appeared straight from the set of Greys Anatomy, 1991 Ogdensburg Free Academy graduate Dr. David J. Dupree, a real-life Derek Shepherd, removed a 51-pound tumor from a 65-year-old woman.
The woman, identified only as Evelyn, from Union Beach, N.J., told doctors she began to notice something was wrong several months ago, but without insurance and just weeks away from turning 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare, she put off going to the doctor until her birthday in early June.
When I saw her, she was literally dying, Dr. Dupree said in a phone interview from his Fair Haven, N.J., home. It was a life-saving operation. She was going to die that night.
Dr. Dupree explained that the tumor, which was malignant and made up approximately one-third of her body weight, was resting on her vena cava the largest vein in the human body, responsible for supplying blood to the heart.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Dr. Dupree said the woman, who came in to Riverview Medical Center weighing 171 pounds, weighed only 120 when she was released to a rehabilitation facility.
When asked how long he thought the woman had been ill, Dr. Dupree said he had no reason not to believe her story.
They can grow quite rapidly, he said, referring to the tumor, which had fused itself to her abdominal wall.
That meant we were literally shaving this thing off, moving millimeter by millimeter for hours, he told the Daily News.
Once the tumor was separated, Dr. Dupree said, he and his surgical partner, Dr. Alfonzo Ciervo, simply lifted the tumor out of the womans body.
While the operation has gained Dr. Dupree international acclaim and interviews with press from all over the U.S., he said the procedure wasnt close to the most difficult of his career.
This isnt even the biggest or hardest operation Ive done, he said. This was just an unusual situation.