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Decathlon Medal Winner Has 2nd Surgery

Medicine: Student who put off brain operation for academic competition is reported in fair condition.

March 22, 1997|RICHARD LEE COLVIN | TIMES EDUCATION WRITER

Laura Gipson, the 17-year-old scholar who put off brain surgery to compete in the state finals of the Academic Decathlon, was in fair condition Friday, a day after enduring a six-hour operation to remove a fast-growing cancerous tumor.

Dr. Keith Black, the surgeon who was in charge of the operation at UCLA Medical Center, said she was doing "extremely well" considering the seriousness of the procedure. "Her memory is intact, she has no physical weakness, no sensory loss, and her intellectual ability is intact."

Laura competed last weekend with her team from Escondido's Orange Glen High School even though she had undergone surgery at a different hospital only six weeks before.

Black said only 10% of the tumor in the right front lobe of her brain was removed during that operation, making a second surgery necessary. Laura insisted on delaying the second operation so she could participate in the finals with her team. She won a silver medal in her division for essay writing.

Only half of patients diagnosed with brain cancer survive as long as a year, Black said. But, he added, Laura's youth helps her chances. So does the nature of the tumor, only part of which was a fast-growing type.

Laura, a high school senior who is counting on attending UC San Diego next fall, should be released from the hospital in four or five days, Black said.

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