DALLAS - This is the story of a lucky guy with a bad back and a good friend who just happened to need a guinea pig to test some new MRI software.

Because of course, we're not able to use the software on patients until we check it out, said John Ippolito, lead tech at Prime Diagnostic Imaging in Dallas.

So he tested the software on his friend, Alex Largent. Largent was already in the machine for tests on his back. Ippolitio asked Largent if he could also do a brain scan.

It was the day before Thanksgiving. An appropriate day, it turns out.

The image that appeared took John Ippolito's breath away.

He holds the film up to a light. There it is right behind the right eye. About the size of a golf ball.

A large, white mass against the dark background of Alex Largent's brain.

John hid his fear from Alex, but told him to get to a doctor as soon as possible to get it checked out. Largent believes his friend's calm reaction helped prepare him emotionally for the uncertainty ahead.

That was the big calming point. He's done this for so long, he knows this can happen, Largent said. There was no panic.

[Largent] probably had it for several years at least, said Dr. Brad McGowan, looking at Largent's brain scan on his computer.

He said the tumor was unusually easy to access.

A fellow surgeon at Medical City Hospital Dallas removed it before it could damage the brain, or grow so large that it would be difficult to take out without causing more damage.

I think he's very lucky, McGowan said. I think he owes his friend a nice dinner.

It's miraculous really, Ippolito said. That's the only way I can describe it.

Largent agrees.

Oh, this guy saved my life without a shadow of a doubt, Largent said.

He can't thank his friend enough, not just for the accidental discovery, but for keeping so calm, and then helping him through the recovery.

How many times can you say you have a friend who saved your life? Largent said.

If there is a favor to be repaid, Ippolito said, friendship is payment enough.


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