Doctors are optimistic that an 11-year-old Alaskan boy who survived a risky operation to remove most of a brain tumor can return home in a few weeks.

Chris McMahan was in satisfactory condition Wednesday at New York University Medical Center after a team of surgeons and technicians removed 70 percent of a non-cancerous tumor that was crushing his brain stem. The operation took 71/2 hours.A second operation to remove the rest of the tumor could come later, doctors said.

"He just wanted life," said his father, James McMahan, a house painter in North Pole, a Fairbanks suburb of about 5,000 people. "We had hoped that the Lord would lend us a hand. This is a miracle."

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Chris has suffered since birth from neurofibromatosis, or "elephant man's disease," a genetic condition that is sometimes disfiguring.

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