Coppin coach Mitchell had thymus gland removed

Fist-sized tumor benign

breathing was hampered

College basketball

October 28, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Coppin State men's basketball coach Fang Mitchell announced yesterday that his thymus gland was removed nine days ago during major surgery, and he will continue to conduct his athletic director duties from home until the doctors clear him to return to work.

The thymus gland, in the chest near the top of the breastbone, is closely related to the immune system, helping white blood cells recognize and destroy invading bacteria, virus, abnormal cell growth such as cancer, and foreign tissue.

A tumor about the size of a fist was discovered on Mitchell's thymus gland earlier this month after several visits to a doctor. Doctors told him yesterday the tumor was benign.

The Coppin coach said he began experiencing shortness of breath last spring, prompting the doctor visits.

The major surgery required opening Mitchell's chest at the University of Maryland Medical Center on Oct. 19. He was released Sunday.

Mitchell had said Tuesday night he was certain he wouldn't be able to return to the sidelines at least until next week. However, yesterday's announcement from the school said Mitchell, 56, would know more about his return on Nov. 12, when doctors assess his condition.

Mitchell said he decided to give the exact nature of the surgery because "I've been overwhelmed by calls, so I felt it needed to be addressed."

The coach added, "I want to come back as soon as I can, but for now I'll work from home until the doctor determines when I can start coming into the office. With something this serious, I don't want to rush anything."

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