8-year-old receives video from pro tennis player after surgery

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida girl received a surprise from her favorite professional tennis player months after her life-saving surgery.

The 8-year-old’s operation was risky, but Brianna Bozdog is feeling happy and healthy now. “I feel wonderful,” she said.

Thanks to the doctors at Jackson Health, Brianna can go back to playing her favorite sport and is soon headed to Universal Studios.

On Feb. 24, Brianna underwent surgery to remove a rare tumor that was about the size of a tennis ball from the right side of her neck.

Her mom, Mihaela Bozdog said it all started with a swollen lymph node and was assured by a pediatrician that it was only an infection, but she said she knew something was off.

“This kid was on the courts for two, three hours with nothing,” Mihaela said, “and just me noticing this lymph node going up and down and up and down, and I just felt like it has to be more to this than a cold.”

After a visit to the emergency room, doctors discovered the rare tumor on Brianna’s carotid artery. That’s when she was referred to the University of Miami Health System at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Doctors said Brianna was the youngest patient that they have seen with the tumor.

“Being a kid definitely, it’s more challenging,” said Dr. Randi Younis, of UHealth ENT. “It needs a specialist, skilled surgeons and the team approach that we tried to secure.”

“The tumor had actually started to grow into the blood vessel, so part of the planning that we had done was Dr. Peterson doing the test ahead of time to make sure that if we needed to take that artery, that we could,” said Dr. Sarah Jernigan, a UHealth pediatric surgeon. “I was there to help take out that portion of the tumor around the carotid artery, and we actually had to take out the carotid artery in the right side of her neck.”

The surgery was a success, and doctors said it was a team effort.

On Wednesday, Brianna received a message from her favorite Romanian tennis player, Simona Halep. “Hi, thanks for being one of my biggest fans,” Halep said in a video message. “I”m proud of you for making it through all the tests, hospitals and surgeries. You are doing a great job recovering. You have been very brave. Let your courage flow to other parts of your life. You can accomplish anything. Now get back on the court and have fun. Big hugs.”

Upon seeing the video, Brianna was left in tears and was more motivated to get back on the court.

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