Many think that the greatest thing a mother fears, is having to mourn the death of her child/children. The Texas mom Margaret Boemer had that familiar feeling all too frequently. Last year, she had suffered a miscarriage. However, when she and her husband conceived again this time with twins, unfortunately, she had to mourn the loss of yet another child after about six weeks into the pregnancy.
With one of the twins still surviving, Margaret took every precaution, and went to her routine appointments as scheduled. However, during her routine 16- week prenatal checkup, Margaret felt uneasy when the ultra sound technician went unusually silent.
“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,” according to CNN, the mom 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.”
Sacroccygeal teratoma, is a rare tumor that develops before birth and grows on the base of the baby’s tailbone. Even though this tumor is rare it is the most common tumor seen in newborns, and it is more often found in girls than boys. According to The Washington Post, it is estimated that this type of tumor occurs in about 1 out of every 40,000 pregnancies.
Margaret and her husband were devastated, not only did they lose one of the twins before Margaret’s second trimester, but they were already excited to possibly name their baby girl; Lynlee, after both her grandmothers, according to The Washington Post.
In a CNN’s interview with Darrell Cass, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center and Associate professor of Surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College Medicine, he said, “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. But about half of the time, they cause problems for the fetus and it’s usually causing problems because of a blood flow problem.”
Cass further explained that both the tumor and the fetus is trying to grow, therefore both are in competition for the provided blood flow. “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,” said Cass.
Every day the tumor gets larger and larger the fetus becomes more ill. But before taking action, her doctors advised her to get further recommendations from other specialized hospitals in Houston.
“[My Prenatal doctor] was very concerned about it because of the size of the tumor being that early along,” said Boemer, according to The Washington Post. “She felt like that there was a strong possibility that Lynlee would not make it to term.”
One of the hospitals she visited “strongly recommended” that Boemer terminate the pregnancy. They explained that operating on a baby before it has come to term would be too risky, however, without the surgery Lynlee would likely die.
Nevertheless, back at the Texas Children’s Hospital, doctors carefully examined the tumor and agreed on an utero surgery. Luckily, Darrell Cass and Oluyinka Olutoye, two doctors who works at the Texas Children’s Hospital, had successful done such a procedure seven years ago.
However, there are risks with any surgery; and there was only a slim chance Lynlee would survive.
“Lynlee did not have a chance,” Boemer told CNN. “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 a life.”
Boemer said, “It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life.” Then, since the decision, standing at 23 weeks and five days pregnant, the tumor had grown almost larger than the fetus.
Operating for about five hours, “the part on the fetus we do very, very quickly,” said Cass to CNN, “it is only 20 minutes or so on the actual fetus.” Majority of the five hours spent was on opening the uterus, then carefully pulling out the lower half of Lynlee’s body.
It was reported that in the middle of the procedure, Lynlee’s heart stopped and needed to be restarted, in addition she also needed a blood transfusion. For a little while Lynlee came into the world, but after removing 90 percent of the tumor, she was placed back into her mother’s womb and the womb was sewed shut.
Cass said in a CNN report, “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.”
Boemer was prescribed bed rest for the remaining time of her pregnancy. Despite the pain she mustered up the strength and made it almost to 36 weeks-full term.
Doctors were relieved that Lynlee continued to grow. “Her heart got much better, now that it didn’t have to work as hard pumping through this huge tumor,” Olutoye told The Washington Post.
And, on June 6, Lynlee was born for the second time via C-section, weighing at 5 pounds and 5 ounces, according to CNN. After her initial checkup she was declared healthy and taken to the nursery.
At eight days old, Lynlee Hope Boemer, underwent another surgery to remove the remaining parts of the tumor. She successfully recovered in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and weeks later she was able to go home.
Lynlee needs to continue returning to the Texas Children’s Hospital for regular checkups, but her story was truly a miracle. “It was very difficult, Boemer told CNN, “but seeing her toddler smiling with her sisters, it was worth every pain.”