A teenage girl from Davenport is preparing to stay fully awake to assist as doctors remove a rare brain tumour. 

Fifteen-year-old Portia Swan will undergo a groundbreaking awake craniotomy, say doctors. This procedure, typically performed on adults, requires a patient's calm maturity during surgery. Portia will be the youngest known patient in New Zealand to undergo this surgery.

After the complex procedure, a sample of Portia's tumor will be sent to Australia for analysis as part of the Zero 2 trial, an innovative Australian child cancer programme aiming to prevent any child deaths from cancer. 

The programme focuses on genomic sequencing in tumor samples to provide precise, personalised treatments. More than 70 per cent of children in the programme have experienced a shrinkage or stabilisation of their cancer.

Portia's surgery, expected to last four to five hours, will be conducted by Auckland surgeon Dr Andrew Law. Portia will be awake, allowing Dr Law to interact with her and ensure he avoids healthy brain tissue. A speech and language therapist will be present to support Portia and ask questions to assess her responses during the surgery.

Portia's father, Matt Swan, expressed gratitude for the upcoming surgery and participation in the Zero 2 program. The family sees this as Portia's best chance, knowing they have the support of skilled professionals.

Dr. Law, known for performing brain surgery on Keith Richards, plans to use "dad jokes" during the surgery to keep Portia relaxed. While the surgery itself doesn't cause pain due to the absence of pain receptors in the brain, Portia will need to remain completely still.

Portia's rare cancer, a grade 3 Astrocytoma, was discovered in September 2022. Despite undergoing surgery to remove 80 per cent of the tumor and subsequent rounds of oral chemotherapy, the aggressive nature of the tumor necessitates ongoing treatment. Portia's parents are willing to relocate to Sydney or Melbourne for further treatment if required.

The family is currently fundraising to cover the costs of the trial, including inhibitors, and to support Portia's mother, Penny, in taking time off work to care for her. Despite the financial challenges, the Swans remain determined to do everything possible for Portia's well-being.