Larry West first noticed the growth protruding from his navel in 1999, which rapidly increased in size and weight.
“It just kept growing larger and larger all of the time,” said West.
And 14 years later, the growth was an estimated 200 pounds, hanging from his midsection down to his feet like a “sack of potatoes,” he said, making it almost impossible for the 63-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., man to walk and causing painful infections.
“Two o’clock in the morning, he’ll start getting the chills, teeth chattering chills, and high fever,” West’s wife, Charlotte, told KGET-TV. “And, what are you going to do at two o’clock in the morning?”
Yet doctors refused to perform surgery, KGET reports, and insurance wouldn’t cover the costs.
But this year West got a new insurance plan and met Dr. Vip Dev.
“I noticed that he had this massive amount of tissue in what appears to be pants, but it was touching the ground and he was sitting,” said Dev.
“Dr. Dev goes, ‘Well, let’s get it scheduled and get it done,’” Charlotte West recalls, incredulous. “And I’m going, ‘Huh?’”
While Dev agreed to perform the operations, they’re risky because the growth—caused by hardened fat and infected hair follicles—boasts its own blood supply…and no one’s certain exactly what it’s made of.
“These things grow into balls of what we call fibrous scar tissue,” Dev told KGET. “And they’re so big you can’t even study them because we don’t have an M.R.I. or C.T. scan to be able to fit him in.”
Dev led a surgical team earlier this week in the first of three operations to finally remove West’s tumor; the initial surgery involved removing about 32 pounds of skin and tissue.
KGET says he’ll stay in the hospital for two to three weeks for two more operations and is expected to fully recover in three to four months.
“I’m a Christian man and I felt like the Bible tells us that everything is done in God’s time,” West told KGET. “So, my wife said it’s God’s time now.”
“And, it’s just…fallen like dominoes…right in a row,” Charlotte said, “and everything is just working out great.”
“I’m so looking forward to doing regular things,” West added. “It’s going to change my life tremendously.”
Here’s the report from KGET-TV: