Removing a Rare Brain Tumor
A UF Health patient undergoes life-threatening surgery to remove a rare brain tumor.
In late 2020, Reynaldo Jaimes began having consistent, painful headaches. At the time, he had no idea that they were actually symptoms of a rare tumor that would later drastically affect his health.
The headaches continued for several months until they worsened in spring 2021. One day, Jaimes began vomiting and his right hand went numb, which pushed him to go to the emergency room in Douglas, Georgia near his home. Jaimes immediately called his wife, Kayla, who agreed to meet him there.
When Jaimes arrived at the ER, he quickly learned that his migraine was more than expected. He received IV fluids and a CT scan, which revealed he had a rare brain tumor. The mass was large enough to cover both sides of his brain’s frontal lobe.
“I looked at my wife in fear, thinking I was going to lose it,” Jaimes said.
Because of this serious condition, Jaimes was prepped immediately for a helicopter flight to UF Health Jacksonville.
From fear to hope
When Jaimes arrived at UF Health Jacksonville, UF Health neurosurgeon Daryoush Tavanaiepour, MD, was one of the first people to see him and quickly assessed the tumor. Tavanaiepour discovered there were intimate blood vessels connected to the tumor that controlled many other vital bodily functions.
Tavanaiepour recommended Jaimes have surgery to remove the tumor as soon as possible. He educated both Jaimes and his wife about possible complications with the surgery, including a high risk of blood loss and potential for a stroke.
However, Tavanaiepour also shared that he would work to reduce the complications using a multidisciplinary approach with his team. The UF Health Jacksonville Skull Base Center includes a highly skilled, nationally recognized and interdisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Backed by the late UF Health Jacksonville CEO, Leon L. Haley Jr., MD, as well as current senior leadership, the Skull Base Center was created to offer comprehensive care to patients across specialties.
Because of the high risk and complexities of Jaimes’ surgery, having a team to provide expertise and insight was essential. Jaimes had only one request before surgery — to spend a few days with his family.
“I wanted to go home to be with my wife and kids, because this might be the last time I saw them,” Jaimes said.
Embracing the risk
On May 13, 2021, Jaimes underwent the 12-hour surgery led by Tavanaeipour and joined by UF Health neurosurgeon Kourosh Tavanaiepour, DO. Together, alongside their highly skilled team at the Skull Base Center, they were able to avoid complications and the surgery was successful.
The first 24 hours after the surgery were critical in Jaimes’ recovery. During surgery, the majority of the tumor was removed. Radiation treatment would target the remaining 10%. This was done to help preserve vessels that were connected to other important bodily functions and to avoid possible stroke.
After surgery, Jaimes was cared for at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, where he underwent 33 radiation treatments from May through September.
Healing and moving forward
Jaimes is grateful to UF Health for the care he received and to his wife for being a big supporter during his surgery. During her visits to see him, Kayla mentioned how kind the UF Health staff were. Something as simple as “How are you today?” put her at ease with everything going on. Feeling welcomed when she was distraught and overwhelmed made a positive impact on her experience. She appreciated the consistent communication from UF Health Jacksonville staff throughout the process.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better team. They took care of me around the clock,” Jaimes said. “I’m thankful for UF Health.”