When a Miami couple learned their unborn child had a condition that she had little chance of surviving, rather than recommend abortion, a renowned fetal surgeon was able to save her life with a first-of-its-kind surgery that took place inside the womb.
CBS Miami is reporting that 20 month-old Lyna Gonzalez had a rough start in life. During her mother’s pregnancy, doctors discovered a benign tumor the size of a tennis ball growing on her mouth. Tammy Gonzalez was told there was little chance the baby would survive birth and even if she did, she would require an immediate tracheotomy to enable her to breath and multiple surgeries thereafter.
“It’s the most horrible feeling you could ever image; physically, emotionally, mentally,” Gonzalez told CBS.
But she wasn’t about to give up. After doing a lot of research, she contacted Dr. Ruben Quintero, a pioneer in fetal surgery at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial. Quintero had experience with treating babies in utero for birth defects and other high risk conditions, and decided to take the case.
“The concern with these tumors is they grow very rapidly, the cause bleeding which leads to the death of the baby,” said Quintero about this kind of oral tumor that grows in one in 100,000 pregnancies.
In May 2010, when Tammy was in the 17th week of her pregnancy, Quintero and Dr. Eftichia Kontopoulos performed the surgery on baby Lyna using an endoscope guided by ultrasound and were able to remove the tumor from the baby’s mouth.
Tammy, who was awake and under local anesthesia, watched the whole procedure and saw the tumor drop away after it was severed.
“It was like this huge weight had been lifted off. It just floated away and I could see her face,” she said.
On October 1, 2010, Leyna Mykaella Gonzalez was born healthy, weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce. The only sign of the surgery is a tiny scar on her mouth.
“This was an opportunity to expand the field we have developed, to treat birth defects in utero,” said Quinero.
The procedure is now one for the record books and was recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology as the first of its kind.
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