A baby girl from Texas has been “born” twice after she was taken out of her mother’s womb for 20 minutes for life-saving surgery.
During her 16-week ultrasound, Margaret Hawkins Boemer discovered that her unborn daughter, Lynlee Hope, had a tumour on her spine. The mass, known as a sacrococcygeal teratoma, was diverting blood from the foetus – raising the risk of fatal heart failure.
The baby’s only chance of survival was risky fetal surgery that involved removing her from her mother’s womb prematurely, and then putting her back in so that she could be carried full term.
“It was a choice of allowing the tumour to take over her body or giving her chance at life. It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life,” Boemer told CNN.
The entire surgery, performed by Dr. Cass and his partner, Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, lasted around 5 hours, but work on Lynlee took only 20 minutes. The majority of the operation involved making sure Boemer’s uterus was sealed properly so that she could carry LynLee to term. Despite a few surgical complications — including a larger-than-expected incision for Boemer and heart troubles for LynLee — the operation was successful.
Mrs Boemer spent the next 12 weeks on bedrest, and Lynlee entered the world for the second time on 6 June. She was born via Caesarean at almost full term, weighing 5Ib and 5oz, and named after both of her grandmothers.
When Lynlee was eight days old, a further operation helped remove the rest of the tumour from her tailbone.
Dr Cass said the baby girl was now home and thriving. “Baby Boemer is still an infant but is doing beautiful,” he confirmed.
Sacrococcygeal teratoma is a rare form of tumour seen in one out of 30,000-70,000 live births. Its cause is unknown but baby girls are affected four times more often than boys.