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Wrestling star Great Khali has tumor removed at UPMC

| Thursday, July 26, 2012, 7:53 p.m.
International wrestling star Dalip Singh, who goes by the ring name The Great Khali, successfully underwent surgery at UPMC Presbyterian to remove a tumor from his pituitary gland, according to hospital officials. Submitted

International wrestling star Dalip Singh — who goes by the ring name The Great Khali — successfully underwent surgery at UPMC Presbyterian to remove a tumor from his pituitary gland, according to hospital officials.

Singh, 39, made his debut with World Wrestling Entertainment in 2006 and became the World Heavyweight Champion in 2007. He has appeared in a number of TV shows and feature films.

The tumor removed during a four-hour procedure on Wednesday led to the growth spurt that caused Singh to achieve a height of 7 feet, 1 inch and a weight of 347 pounds, according to UPMC neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon, who led the surgical team.

Maroon said Thursday the tumor causes a condition called acromegaly, which can be fatal if left untreated. The pituitary gland is a pea-sized organ at the base of the brain.

The wrestler Andre the Giant, who was 7-feet 4-inches tall and weighed nearly 500 pounds, was afflicted by the same condition. He died in 1993 of congestive heart failure at 46.

“As part of our ongoing wellness evaluation, we are happy that The Great Khali had successful pituitary surgery, and we look forward to him returning to the ring in the near future,” said Adam Hopkins, a spokesman for WWE, based in Stamford, Conn.

Singh declined to be interviewed because he is having difficulty speaking as a result of the surgical packing placed in his nasal cavity during surgery, said Susan Manko, a hospital spokeswoman.

Singh is expected to recover within three months, said Maroon, who has been the Pittsburgh Steelers' neurosurgeon since 1977 and was named WWE's medical director in 2008.

Maroon's surgical team, which included Dr. Paul Gardner and Dr. Carl Snyderman, used a minimally invasive procedure pioneered at UPMC in which the tumor was removed through Singh's nostril.

Manko said the wrestler is expected to be released over the weekend.

Singh is a native of Punjabi, India, where he worked as a laborer and as a police officer, according to postings he made on social networking sites.

Before signing with WWE, Singh wrestled for All Pro Wrestling and with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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