Emergency Procedure Saves California Man from Brain Parasite

In a remarkable turn of events, Luis Ortiz, a senior at Sacramento State, underwent a life-saving emergency surgery to remove a live parasite from his brain. The procedure was successful, and Luis is already on the road to recovery.

It all started when Luis experienced an excruciating headache while visiting his mother in Napa in August. Concerned, his mother immediately dialed 9-1-1, and paramedics rushed Luis to Queen of the Valley Medical Center. A brain scan revealed the shocking truth – Luis had a tapeworm in his brain, and time was running out.

Without wasting any time, the medical team swiftly moved into action. Equipped with specialized cameras, they detected the tapeworm larvae inside a cyst, obstructing the circulation in Luis’ brain. Emergency brain surgery became imperative, and the clock was ticking.

Reflecting on the ordeal, Luis commented, “That doesn’t sound so good, I thought. Ugh. I thought it didn’t sound good when the doctor stated it was still wriggling as he pulled it out. What are the chances, for instance, of having a parasite in my head?”

Medical professionals investigated various ways through which the parasite might have infected Luis’ body. They asked him about recent raw pork consumption, river swimming, or travel to third-world countries, to which Luis replied, “I haven’t done any of it. But I’m not sure how long the worm has been in my skull.”

Tapeworm infections in humans can stem from six different types of tapeworms. These parasites are usually identified by the animal they originated from. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that consuming undercooked meat can lead to gastrointestinal parasite infections. Additionally, brain infections can occur from consuming food prepared by an infected person who transfers the larvae through poor sanitation and hygiene. Once consumed, the larvae can make their way to the brain.

Shockingly, the CDC estimates that the pig tapeworm alone causes 1,000 hospital admissions in the US every year.

Looking ahead, Luis is grateful for the quick action taken by the medical team that saved his life. He is determined to finish college and embrace all that life has to offer. “Since I wouldn’t be here right now if I had waited a little longer,” Luis said, “It’s surely more rewarding to me to be alive.”

Watch a video on Luis’ remarkable journey .