By Dave Andrusko
Imagine, if you can, what was going through Margaret Boemer’s mind. The Lewisville, Texas mom had already lost one of her unborn twins before the second trimester when doctors recommended she abort the second twin.
Why? Because the baby girl, who was by then 16-weeks old, had a tumor on her spine, according to Elizabeth Koh of the News Tribune:
The tumor, they told her, was a sacrococcygeal teratoma, a rare tumor affecting one of up to 70,000 births. It was drawing blood away from her baby and could cause heart failure before she was born.
But Boemer and her husband flatly refused.
Often such surgery is postponed until after the baby is born, but that was not an option. “At 23 weeks, the tumour was shutting her heart down and causing her to go into cardiac failure, so it was a choice of allowing the tumour to take over her body or giving her a chance at life,” she told the BBC. (A sacrococcygeal teratoma is a tumor that grows from an unborn baby’s tailbone.)
“It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life.” She added, “We knew that if we didn’t choose the option of emergency surgery that night, that within a day or so she would pass.”
Still, doctors gave the baby, Lynlee Hope, only a 50-50% chance.
And the surgery, performed at Texas Children’s Fetal Center, proved to be extremely complicated. Lynlee Hope almost died.
For starters, as Koh reported, by the time the surgery was performed, the tumor was nearly the size of the baby’s tiny body!
According to Koh,
The complicated and risky surgery nearly went awry as doctors tried to remove the tumor with a “huge” incision, said doctor Darrell Cass, who was part of the operation. The baby, weighing just 1 pound and 3 ounces during the surgery, was “hanging out in the air” as they cut away the mass and her heart nearly stopped — though a cardiologist kept her alive.
Doctors then placed Lynlee Hope (who weighed 1lb 3oz at the time of the surgery) back in her mother’s womb, and sewed up the opening. Twelve weeks later–on June 5–she was delivered again, this time by Caesarean section, weighing 5 pounds and 5 ounces.
“It was her second birth, basically,” Boemer told KPRC2. “It was a relief to finally see her and see that she had made it through all the difficulty that she had and with her heart… after the open fetal surgery her heart had time to heal while I was still pregnant with her so she has no heart issues now and is just doing amazing.”
Lynlee subsequently underwent a second surgery to remove the remaining tumor on her spine. Now four months old, “Baby Boemer is still an infant but is doing beautiful,” Darrell Cass, the co-director of the Texas Children’s Fetal Centre told the BBC.