RED BANK, N.J. - In a scene that appeared like it hopped straight from the set of Greys Anatomy, Ogdensburg Free Academy graduate Dr. David Dupree, a real-life Derek Shepherd, removed a 51 pound tumor from inside the body of a 65-year-old woman.
The woman, who was 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 decided to put off going to the doctors until her birthday, which came in early June.
Lucky for Evelyn her birthday came at the beginning of the month.
When I saw her, she was literally dieing, Dr. Dupree said, in a phone interview from his Fair Haven, N.J. home, adding the June 10 operation came just days after Evelyn turned 65.
It was a life saving operation, he said. She was going to die that night.
Dr. Dupree explained the tumor, which was malignant and made up approximately one-third of her body weight was resting on her vena cava. The vena cava, he said is the largest vein in the human body and responsible for supplying blood to the heart.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Dr. Dupree said the woman, who came into the hospital weighing 171 pounds, weighed only 120 when she was released from the hospital into a rehab facility.
Dr. Dupree said Thursday that Evelyn was expected to be released from that facility and sent home on Friday.
When asked how long he thought the woman had been ill, Dr. Dupree said he had no reason to not believe her story.
They can grow quite rapidly, he said, referring to the tumor, which had actually 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 from inside the womans body.
At that point, Dr. Dupree told the Daily New her vitals began to return to normal.
While the operation has gained Dr. Dupree international acclaim and interviews with press from all over the U.S., he said the procedure wasnt even close to the most difficult one hes ever done.
This isnt even the biggest or hardest operation Ive done, he said. This was just an unusual situation.
That being said though, the 39-year-old surgeon, who graduated from OFA in 1991, said this likely will end up as the highlight of his career.
This will probably be the biggest thing in my career, he said. Its not every day Good Day New York calls and says theyre sending a limo.
While two other surgeons declined to perform the procedure, Dr. Dupree said he didnt even have to think twice.
I make difficult decisions all the time, but this was one of the easiest decisions Ive ever made, he said.
Another easy decision was what to do on his summer vacation.
Ill be up for the Seaway Festival, he said. Im bringing my wife and kids up for that and some fishing on the river.
Dr. Dupree, who grew up in Ogdensburg and still has several family members in the area, added this will be the first time that either his wife or two children have attended the festival.
He is the son of Lynn Fishel of Morristown and Timothy Dupree of Ogdensburg.