How devastating would it be to find out the baby you are carrying has a life-threatening tumor? Margaret Hawkins Boemer learned when she was 16 weeks pregnant with her daughter, Lynlee Hope, that the baby was in danger of dying because of a rare tumor known as sacrococcygeal teratoma on her spine.
The mass was diverting blood from the baby and was raising her risk for heart failure. Boemer was expecting twins, but she had lost the other baby before the second trimester. She had been told to terminate the pregnancy, but doctor’s at the Texas Children’s Fetal Center suggested a risky surgery that saved little Lynlee’s life.
The baby was just a tiny 1 lb. 3 oz. when the surgery was performed. The tumor had grown so large that it was almost the same size as Lynlee when doctors opened the womb. and she was given only a 50% chance of surviving. Mrs. Boemer recalls the situation, telling 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 life. It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life.”
Doctor Darrell Cass of Texas Children’s Fetal Center was part of the team that performed the surgery. He said that a “huge” incision had to be made to reach the actual tumor which left the baby “hanging out in air.” Her tiny heart stopped during the procedure, but a heart specialist kept her alive until she could be placed back into her mothers womb.
Margaret was placed on 12 weeks of bedrest and Laylee was born into the world a second time on June 6 weighing a healthy 5 lbs. and 5 oz. Another operation was performed when she was eight days old to remove the rest of the tumor. Dr. Cass says, “Baby Boemer is still an infant but is doing beautiful.”
Sacroccygeal teratoma is only seen in 30,000-70,000 live births and occurs more in girls. The cause is unknown.