LynLee Boemer was born TWICE. Fascinating? Probably. But, the reason is disheartening, with the probability of the first birth proving fatal to be very high. 12 weeks into her pregnancy, Margret Boemer discovered that her baby had Sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT) – a tumour that grows from the baby’s tailbone. Margret was, however, bold enough to take a huge chance, when many doctors advised her to terminate her pregnancy.
What is Sacrococcygeal teratoma?
It is the most common type of tumour in foetuses and is found in one in every 35,000 births. It can either grow externally or internally. However, it both cases, it tends to develop large blood vessels and forces the foetus’ heart to pump harder, leading to heart failure.
Now, most of the times the tumour either goes undetected or is too small and benign (non-cancerous) and can be treated after birth as well. But sometimes the size of the tumour becomes so big that it tends to overpower the embryo, and in such cases, open foetal surgeries need to be performed.
The First Birth
Dr Darrell Cass, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center carried out the open foetal surgery when Margret Boemer was 23 weeks and 5 days pregnant. The doctors had made it clear to her that the size of the tumour was almost as big as big as the foetus, and with the surgery too, the chances of survival of the baby were slim. For Margret, it was a chance worth taking.
Foetal surgeries have been performed in the past, but this one was fairly more dramatic, with moments when the foetus’ heart had stopped functioning but was revived fairly quickly.
If the foetus is removed from the uterus, it is usually an indication to the body about the termination of the pregnancy and because of this, none of the foetal surgeries removes or detaches the embryo from the mother. However, the opposite was done in Margret’s case considering the size of the tumour. The baby was left ‘hanging in mid-air’ for quite some time during the surgery.
Fortunately enough, with all the complications, the surgery was successfully completed.
The Second Birth
After a good five hour surgery, both the mother and the foetus were found healthy, and twelve weeks later, little LynLee Boemer was welcomed into the world, yet again. All had not ended for the little baby, as her chances of surviving were still grim. She was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit and after a thorough check-up was deemed healthy and moved to the nursery.
Later, the eight-day-old LynLee had to undergo yet another surgery to remove bits of the tumour that could not be removed the first time.
It’s funny how the ‘miracle of life’ is most often complemented by science. If not for the medical advances, Margret would have probably lost her child. What is important is that, even after being aware that the chances of survival of the foetus are very low, Margret was daring enough to give ‘life a chance’. It was probably a wise risk, considering that the foetus would have eventually given up, otherwise.
For Margret Boemer, the nine months of her pregnancy had definitely been a ‘bumpy’ road, but the bundle of joy that is LynLee Boemer that she holds today was probably worth every pain.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.