Today’s news:

Peruvian boy’s tumor removed at Schneider’s

Sebastian Jimenez Pina thanked his doctors and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Long Island) during a Jan. 2 news conference at Schneider Children's Hospital.Pina arrived in the United States Dec. 23 and underwent brain surgery at the New Hyde Park hospital Dec. 27 to remove a peach-sized tumor from his left temple that could have been fatal if left untreated.During the operation, performed by Schneider doctors Mark Mittler and Mark Atlas, Sebastian's malignant tumor was removed and his skull was reconstructed with titanium mesh to protect his scalp from sinking after a hole was left from the procedure.The 5-year-old faced obstacles coming to the United States for treatment because he was initially unable to get a visa to travel for the operation.But Israel stepped in and was able to obtain a visa for Sebastian after contacting the U.S. Embassy in Lima. He persuaded embassy officials to keep the office open past its closing time on Dec. 21 so visas could be made for Sebastian and his family."They give us such a beautiful gift in Christmas," said Sebastian's uncle, Luis Pina, 60, who served as the family's translator during the news conference. "The road is still long, but we had a good start, so please do not, do not stop praying for him."Sebastian stayed with his relatives on Long Island following the successful surgery but is now back home in Peru, where he is scheduled to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments in the South American country. His doctors said there are still some cancerous cells left in Sebastian's brain and could not say how well he may do in the future.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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