ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – An 11-year-old Mexican boy suffering from a massive tumor, who drew international attention after U.S. Homeland Security Investigations helped him get treatment in New Mexico, is scheduled to have a series of surgeries in Albuquerque to remove the large growth on his shoulder.
The boy will have his first operation later this month at the University of New Mexico Hospital in what is expected to be a long road to recovery, said Kristean Alcocer, the Spanish ministry coordinator at the First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho.
"We are very, very excited," Alcocer said. "We've been waiting for this for two years now and it's finally going to happen."
In July 2012, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations helped in picking up the boy and his parents from a neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez — a city plagued by drug cartel violence.
Federal agents helped the family seek care for the boy, known as Jose, after First Baptist Church members saw him during a missionary visit.
Federal officials wanted to keep the boy's identity secret because his family still lives in Ciudad Juarez.
The boy was diagnosed with venous lymphangioma on his shoulder and told by doctors at the University of New Mexico Hospital that he must undergo a series of surgeries and treatments to remove the huge fluid buildup.
For the past two years the church has raised money for the boy, who is now living in Rio Rancho, Alcocer said.
Jose's plight drew support from New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who asked federal officials to extend his stay in the U.S. so he could continue treatment.
In August, the boy was hospitalized for five weeks because of an infection, church officials said.
Alcocer said the surgeries will involve removing the tumor and reconstructing his shoulder bone. He will also have to excess skin removed, Alcocer said.
"He doesn't want to know all the details," Alcocer said. "But he's ready."