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Novemthree Siahaan

Novemthree Siahaan (November 3, 1998September 15, 2005) was a young Indonesian boy who had the rare condition gigantiform cementoma. The story of his life garnered much media attention when he was taken to Taiwan for treatment. His surgeries were filmed for international broadcast on the Discovery television network.

Background

Born with a normal face in Batam Island, Indonesia, Novemthree was raised in a poor village. His mother sent him to live with his grandparents at a young age, before the cementoma had started to grow. When they returned to Novemthree roughly eight months later, the cementoma had already grown to alarming size; so much that Novemthree's parents questioned if it were actually their son. Extremely concerned, Novemthree's parent's brought him to the local doctor (the only one they could afford) and he informed Novemthree's father that it was most likely black magic that was supposed to affect him, but instead attacked Novemthree. Time passed, and the cementoma had grown to cover nearly his entire face. Novemthree could no longer see out of his right eye, lost his ability to walk, had respiratory problems due to his airway being blocked, and had to lift his head up to drink. Before surgery, the cementoma weighed in approximately at two pounds.

Medical care in Taiwan

Novemthree needed immediate medical attention. The surgeons at Tz'u Chi Buddhist General Hospital in Hualien, Taiwan placed a tube in Novemthree's trachea to allow him to breathe while removing his tumours. The surgeons would have to cut the tumour in three different surgeries and re-sculpt his face because the tumors had destroyed much of his facial structure. The first surgery was performed on Novemthree's left cheek, giving him sight in his left eye. The second surgery performed was to excise the tumour on his right cheek. In spite of doubts from the surgical team, he regained sight in his right eye as well. The final surgery would remove the remaining tumour from Novemthree's mouth, and reconstruct his face to approximate normality.

Novemthree had to endure physical therapy to regain his ability to walk, and speech therapy to teach him how to speak again. Though it was expected that he would need future surgeries, Novemthree was soon allowed back home. The hope was that the boy would be able to recuperate as well as mature, so that more bone would grow for the doctors to continue to reshape Novemthree's face.

Death

One year later the tumour, which had been shaped to form the lost skull bones, began to grow back. He was taken back to the hospital for further surgery as the tumors had grown faster than the doctors expected and his breathing was becoming restricted. A second procedure was needed. However, doctors hesitated to perform the operation due to concerns about the necessity of a permanent tracheotomy (which would be difficult to keep clean due to poor sanitary conditions in his home village) as well as the unexpected rapidity of the tumour's regrowth. Novemthree was sent back home mere hours before the original time for the operation. On September 15, 2005, Novemthree died in his sleep, due to a respiratory infection in his chest. The Tzu Chi foundation gave him a proper burial.

Media

Novemthree's story was shared on the Discovery Health Channel in 2005. Viewers were drawn to Novemthree's story because of the severity of the deformity as well as the boy's sweet character. His father Siahaan describes his son as "a kind, wise and clever kid. Whenever he was feeling ill he never once complained to us, he simply took all his suffering on his own.". It was only at the end of the program in a footnote, did viewers learn of Novemthree's passing. A second TV show about Novemthree and his medical condition has been produced and aired, in which his death is also depicted.

References

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