A mother in Plano, Texas has given birth to a healthy baby girl after a serious pregnancy complication forced her to deliver the baby twice: the first time for a dangerous fetal surgery in her second trimester.
When Margaret Boemer went for a routine ultrasound at 16 weeks, doctors found something “seriously wrong” with the baby: sacroccygeal teratoma, an unusual tumor located in the base of the fetus’s tailbone, KTRK reported. The birth defect is more common in female babies than male babies.
This was the second piece of bad news Boemer, already a mother of two, received in this pregnancy. She was originally carrying twins but lost one of the babies in the first trimester.
Boemer called the diagnosis “very shocking and scary,” but Dr. Darrell Cass, co-director of the Texas Fetal Children’s Center, said it’s a rare but “most common” tumor seen in a newborn, affecting about one in every 35,000 births.
“Some of these tumors can be very well-tolerated, so the fetus has it and can get born with it and we can take it out after the baby’s born,” Cass said. But about half of the time, they cause problems for the fetus.”
The condition typically causes blood flow problems for the baby – the tumor is trying to grow by sucking blood from the baby, but the baby is trying to grow as well, Cass said.
“And in some instances, the tumor wins and the heart just can’t keep up, and the heart goes into failure and the baby dies,” Cass said.
The growing baby grew more ill each day as the tumor grew as well. At 23 weeks, the tumor was causing the unborn baby to go into cardiac failure.
Some doctors suggested to Boemer that she terminate the pregnancy, but Cass offered another option: fetal surgery, although the baby’s chance of survival would be slim.
“At 23 weeks, the tumor was shutting her heart down and causing her to go into cardiac failure, so it was a choice of allowing the tumor 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.”
The surgery took about five hours to complete. Although the surgery on the fetus only took about 20 minutes, the rest of the time was spent opening up the uterus.
The baby’s heart rate slowed down to an alarming rate during the surgery, but doctors were able to remove the bulk of the tumor before placing the fetus baby into the womb and sewing Boemer’s uterus shut.
Boemer remained on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy, and once she got to full term at 36 weeks, LynLee Hope, named for both her grandmothers, was born via C-section on June 6 at 5 pounds and 5 ounces.
Lynlee was immediately whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit for evaluation, but she was found to be healthy in the initial checkup and was transferred to the nursery.
But, the battle wasn’t over yet. At 8 days old, Lynlee had another surgery to remove the remaining tumor. She recovered in the NICU and was able to head home a few weeks later.
Cass has performed a similar surgery once before, which was a success, he said, adding that the little girl is now 7 years old and sings karaoke to Taylor Swift.
“She’s completely normal,” Cass said. Watch the full report: