Whether or not Dean Garrett of Enterprise will make it home in time for Thanksgiving is relatively immaterial. The important thing is that he is alive and well after having an 18- to 20-pound malignant tumor extracted from his abdominal cavity early last week.
Garrett's wife Janice and brother Darrell relay the same story about the gloomy prognosis given by doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital in Portland prior to the surgery Monday, Nov. 18. They were prepared to wait through nine hours of surgery with possible damage to multiple interior organs.
What doctors found was an encased tumor the size of a basketball which had pushed such organs as Dean's kidneys, stomach, liver, spleen and diaphragm to the side without attaching itself to any of the vital organs. They were able to remove the large growth and close the 40 staple incision stretching from his breast bone to his pelvic bone in four to five hours.
"It was a miracle that they got it," said wife Janice who gives credit to a myriad of prayers sent their way by friends and well wishers.
Garrett, 61, a 30-year employee of the Wallowa County Grain Growers, had been experiencing a shortness of breath for the past year. He was somewhat upset when a diet failed to take away any pounds from his 235 lb. frame. He had hoped to lose weight for his son's wedding. Darrell said that pain set in for his brother last deer hunting season when Dean went out on a 4-wheeler.
"The doctor said that they got it all," said brother Darrell Garrett. "And it wasn't attached to anything."
Local surgeon Dr. Robert Berecz, without knowing any details of the case, said that the tumor was "exceptionally large for a male patient." He said that ovarian tumors in female patients can become larger.
Garrett went for his first post surgery "stroll" last Thursday, Nov. 21, said his wife. She said that if things went well it might be possible for Garrett to be transported home by son Chad Garrett before Thanksgiving.
Many remember Dean Garrett from his 26 years of volunteer service to the Enterprise Fire Department. He retired from that position in 1996.
Formerly of Clarkston, Wash., Garrett moved to Lostine his sophomore year in high school to live with his aunt and uncle, Shorty and Chet Lewis. He graduated from Lostine High School in 1959 and served in the U.S. Army in Germany. Before becoming employed at the Grain Growers he drove the ARCO truck for Deb Denney, did some logging and some carpentry work.
Referred to OHSU by Dr. Rene Grandi of Winding Waters Clinic in Enterprise, Garrett made a preliminary trip to Portland for tests and received a Thursday, Nov. 14, surgery date which was later aborted.
Janice Garrett, who came home last Friday, said that her husband was on a soft food diet and was looking "quite thin."