Twenty-six-year-old Yamini Karanam was a long way from her Indiana home when she awoke from brain surgery in which doctors planned to remove a tumor but found something entirely unexpected. Since September 2014, the Indiana University Ph.D. student had been struggling with making sense of common conversational situations and was finding it difficult to retain what she was reading. She knew something wasn’t right but never expected the rare reason for her malady, she told John Klemack of NBC Los Angeles.
After seeking information on her condition but receiving conflicting opinions from local neurologists and neurosurgeons, she took matters into her own hands and found the Skull Base Institute in Los Angeles. It was there that Dr. Hrayr Shahinian performed a “minimally invasive” brain procedure, which he developed, to remove the deep tumor in Karanam’s brain. During what Dr. Shahinian refers to as “keyhole surgery,” he extracted the cause of Karanam’s suffering, only to learn that this was a very rare tumor called a teratoma, and it was actually her embryonic twin she never knew existed.
How rare? According to Klemack, of the roughly 7,000 to 8,000 brain tumors that Dr. Shahinian has extracted, this was only the second time he ever came across this type of tumor. In her interview, Karanam appears upbeat after what she calls, her “evil twin sister who’s been torturing me for the past 26 years,” was finally removed.