Doctors at UF Health Skull Base Center remove Jacksonville woman's tumor in rare procedure

Dr. Daryoush Tavanaiepour helped bring a skull-base center to UF Health Jacksonville five years ago.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Lauren Fells, a Jacksonville mom of two, started getting intense headaches in April.

"I couldn't hardly bear it anymore. My head would stay swollen for 24 hours," she said. "I came up to the emergency room. They did a CAT scan and they admitted me."

Dr. Daryoush Tavanaiepour at UF Health Jacksonville, showed Action News Jax her scans. She had a brain tumor in the back of her head.

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"It was surrounded by pretty critical structures of the brain, particularly the brain stem and arteries and vessels, which made it more challenging than usual," Tavanaiepour said.

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He said he researched how other doctors had tackled a tumor in that spot and learned it's only been done one other time, in Europe.

"I was shocked. I was really shocked," Fells said. "But I said, ‘OK, whatever's next, I'm ready for it.'"

Tavanaiepour helped bring a skull-base center to UF Health Jacksonville five years ago.

It's made up of dozens of specialized doctors and nurses.

With a team of three neuro doctors, they felt confident they could remove Fell's tumor.

It involved ligating, or tying off, a vessel right next to it.

"The first attempt at this surgery is the most important, to try to take all of it out," Tavanaiepour said. "And that's why we harped on this idea, should we take this vessel."

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Fells had the surgery in June. The tumor is now gone.

"Thank God he got all of it, and it was benign," Fells said.

Now Tavanaiepour wants other people to know his team can treat them right here in Jacksonville. He said other than the skull base center at UF Health Jacksonville, the closest centers are in Miami or Atlanta.

As for Fells, she said she believes her faith got her through it all.

"I said, ‘Lord, everything's going to be alright. I know it is, because it's in your hands and I trust the doctors,'" she said.