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Man told by doctors he has 30 minutes to live after tapeworm found in his brain

Luis Ortiz was told he only had 30 mintues to live by doctors after suffering horrific headaches

Emma Henderson
Thursday 05 November 2015 10:15 GMT
A close up of a parasitic tapeworm
A close up of a parasitic tapeworm (Rex Features)

A man was told he had only 30 minutes to live by doctors, after a tapeworm was found in his brain.

Luis Ortiz, from California had life-saving emergency surgery to remove the live tapeworm inside his head.

Mr Ortiz was taken to Queen of the Valley Medical Centre after suffering with the "worst headache" of his life. A brain scan revealed a live tapeworm was living inside his brain causing the pain.

The 26-year-old student was told he only had about 30 minutes to live by doctors and needed immediate surgery to remove the tapeworm.

Ortiz’ neurosurgeon, Dr. Soren Singel said “it was a close call” and Ortiz was lucky he went to hospital when he did.

The surgeons put Ortiz into a coma to perform the surgery. Using a camera, they discovered a sac of larvae from the tapeworm inside the brain.

The parasitic tapeworm had formed a cyst that blocked the flow of water to Luis’ brain, which left any longer could have been fatal.

Mr Ortiz said, “The doctor pulled it out and he said it was still wiggling…what are the odds I’d get a parasite in my head?”

However, Singel said parasitic worms in human bodies are not uncommon, and are usually caused by eating infected pork, beef or fish.

The surgery has impacted his life heavily. “My memory is like a work in progress”, Mr Ortiz said. “It gets better from therapy”, he added, but he has to remind himself to do his memory exercises.

The headaches began in August, but Mr Ortiz said he"just ignored it” at first.

He is recovering from the surgery and hopes to finish university.

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