ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had portions of a massive tumor removed in New Mexico is out of intensive care, a spokesman for a church helping the boy said Sunday.
Kristean Alcocer of the First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho told The Associated Press that Jose Antonio Ramirez Serrano is recovering after his 11-hour surgery on Nov. 17.
"He spent almost 18 days in the ICU recuperating from the extensive surgery," Alcocer said. "When he woke up he asked, 'What happened?'"
Alcocer said Jose thought he had only been asleep for one day when he had been asleep for nine.
Doctors at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque removed a third of the watermelon-sized tumor during the surgery. They say he will need months of physical therapy followed by more surgeries.
In July 2012, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations assisted in picking up Jose and his parents from a neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez — one of the deadliest cities in the world because of drug cartels.
Federal agents helped the family seek care for Jose after First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho members saw him during a missionary visit.
After stories and images of the boy went viral, First Baptist Church officials reported a jump in donations to help him raise money for the surgeries.
While recovering in the intensive care, the boy got a visit from New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. The governor has asked federal authorities to grant the boy and his family extend visas so he could receive treatment in Albuquerque.