Mum went for a routine check at 16 weeks only to be told her baby should be terminated.
Margaret Boemer went for a routine ultrasound 16 weeks into her pregnancy with her third child only to discover something was terribly wrong, doctors advised her the best thing to do was terminate, reports CNN.
“They saw something on the scan, and the doctor came in and told us that there was something seriously wrong with our baby and that she had a sacrococcygeal teratoma,” the mum said in an interview shared by Texas Children’s Hospital. “And it was very shocking and scary, because we didn’t know what that long word meant or what diagnosis that would bring.”
Sacrococcygeal teratoma is a tumour that develops before birth and grows from a baby’s coccyx, the tailbone.
“This is the most common tumour we see in a newborn,” said Dr. Darrell Cass, co-director of Texas Children’s Foetal Centre and associate professor of surgery, paediatrics and obstetrics and gynaecology at Baylor College Medicine. “Even though it’s the most common we see, it’s still pretty rare.”
Dr Cass explained that the tumour is trying to grow by sucking blood flow from the baby, yet the baby is also trying to grow, too “so it becomes a competition.”
“And in some instances, the tumour wins and the heart just can’t keep up and the heart goes into failure and the baby dies,” said Dr Cass.
Although other doctors had advised Margaret to terminate the pregnancy, Dr Cass and his team told her about another possibility: foetal surgery.
“LynLee didn’t have much of a chance,” Mrs Boemer said. “At 23 weeks, the tumour was shutting her heart down and causing her to go into cardiac failure, so it was a choice of allowing the tumour to take over her body or giving her a chance at life.”
“It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life.”
She was 23 weeks and 5 days pregnant, when Dr Cass performed the emergency foetal surgery. By this time, the tumour was nearly larger than the foetus.
Dr Cass and Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, his partner surgeon, operated for about five hours.
“The part on the foetus we do very, very quickly,” said Dr Cass. “It’s only 20 minutes or so on the actual foetus.” Most of the time is spent opening the uterus, which he described as “a big muscle lined with membranes.”
“We don’t want the mum’s health to be jeopardised,” said Dr Cass, who explained they work carefully, both making the incision and sewing it up in order “to make that uterus be as sealed and as water tight as possible.”
Dr Cass said, the tumour in this case was so large a “huge” incision was needed to get to it, so it ended up that the baby was “hanging out in the air… Essentially, the foetus is outside, like completely out, all the amniotic fluid falls out, it’s actually fairly dramatic,” said Dr Cass.
During the surgery, LynLee’s heart slowed down to an incredibly low rate. “It basically stopped,” said Dr Cass. He credits the heart specialist, a key member of the team, for giving the right medication and transfusing the right amount of fluid, allowing the surgeons to continue their work.
The surgical team removed the bulk of the tumour. When they finished their operation, the surgeons placed LynLee back inside the womb and sewed her mother’s uterus shut.
“It’s kind of a miracle you’re able to open the uterus like that and seal it all back and the whole thing works,” said Dr Cass.
Mum was put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. She made it another 12 weeks to nearly 36 weeks when Lynlee Hope was born for the second time via C-section on June 6.
Immediately, the hospital staff whisked the newborn away to the neonatal intensive care unit for an evaluation, but after this initial checkup, she was deemed healthy and transferred to the nursery.
After she was born, LynLee faced one more ordeal: removing the bits of tumour that surgeons could not reach, which had begun to grow again.
“At eight days old, she had more surgery, and they were able to remove the rest of the tumour,” explained Mrs Boemer.
LynLee recovered in the NICU and weeks later, went home.
Such a gorgeous little miracle.
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