Abu Dhabi: Ahmad was only eight when his parents discovered a small zit on his lower lip. Five years later he was diagnosed with a tumor the size of a grapefruit, which required immediate surgery that stood a 15 per cent risk or death.

The tumor started in the lower lip, and spread to the lower jaw - a rare and complex hereditary condition that required a maxillofacial surgery (free flap surgery).

It took three surgeons and ten different medical specialists from Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) during an 18 hour surgery to remove a 400 gram tumor and the 13-year-olds entire lip and jaw area, including his lower teeth.

“Ahmad started to develop a zit under his lower lip when he was eight. He went through a surgery in Sudan which failed and was rejected in many hospitals due to the complexity of his condition. It took us four years to finally find the help he needed,'' said his relieved father yesterday.

Dr. Robert R. Lorenz, Chief Medical Officer at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, who has been with the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City for the past year, performed Ahmad's surgery; he described Ahmad's condition as a curable cancer, but a complex surgery.

“All of the skin in the chin area, his teeth and lower jaw part that were infected with the tumor and surgically removed. His leg bone was used to reconstruct a whole new jaw for him,'' said Dr. Lorenz, who explained that all of us have a bone between the knees to the foot that we can do without.

After surgery Ahmad developed an infection, which in some cases could worsen and result in death. “Before surgery Ahmad's body enzymes and vitamins were low due to lack of nutrition. He wasn't eating well due to his condition. Malnutrition causes an infection that can cause death. But he's a very brave boy and fought his way through,'' said the cancer surgeon.

Ahmad is susceptible to the sun and had a tumor in his lower eye lid before, Dr. Lorenz told Gulf News. “He is prone to form tumors in different areas of his body. As long as he picks them up and knows how to survey a tumor he'll be fine,'' assured Dr. Lorenz.

Even though Ahmad's medical journey will never end and another two plastic surgeries are required to improve his appearance, he was happy to speak to Gulf News. “I was feeling very ill back then, and I feel well now. I attend a public school and my favorite topic is reading,'' he said while attempting to smile.

Ahmad and his family live in Liwa, and had to do the drive almost daily, in hope that a life can be saved, and it was. Ahmad is now cancer free.