When this mother learned that the peculiar bubble blowing out of her 17-week-old fetus’s mouth was actually a rare and fatal tumor, she thought “there has to be a way to save her.” So, despite doctors’ advice to abort the baby, she underwent the world’s first-of-its-kind utero surgery to remove the peach-sized tumor.
Leyna Mykaella Gonzalez, from Miami, United States, is a healthy “little miracle child.” Years ago in 2010, her mother, Tammy Gonzalez, went through an ordeal to keep her alive.
When Leyna, meaning “little angel,” was in her mother’s womb at 17 weeks of gestation, doctors discovered something strange during an ultrasound scan—they saw a “bubble” blowing from the unborn baby’s soft palate.
“Is that on me or the baby?” asked mom Gonzalez, as she stared at the ultrasound monitor, according to ABC News.
The doctors later confirmed the bubble was actually teratoma, a rare and potentially fatal oral tumor, developing in 1 in every 100,000 pregnancies. “They told me that type of tumor can grow so fast,” said Gonzalez.
“I was like, ‘there has to be a way to save her,’” she told the Miami Herald.
Gonzalez’s gynecologist, Jason James, gave her two options: terminate the pregnancy, as the baby could have little chance of survival after birth, or carry the baby and risk a miscarriage. Gonzalez refused to abort the baby. She started researching for ways to save the baby.
“It’s the most horrible feeling you could ever image; physically, emotionally, mentally,” said Gonzalez in an interview with CBS Miami.
“I asked my gynecologist if there’s another way, if somebody could do surgery on her while she’s inside,” she said, according to The Guardian.
Gonzalez was then referred to Dr. Ruben Quintero, director of the Fetal Therapy Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Two weeks later, in May 2010, Dr. Quintero and his team proceeded with the utero surgery using an endoscope—a medical procedure that had never been carried out before.
They inserted a tiny camera and surgical tools through a quarter-inch incision in Gonzalez’s abdomen and into the amniotic sac. With the visual images provided by the camera and an ultrasound, surgeons were able to gauge where the peach-sized tumor was before cutting it off from the fetus’s mouth using a laser beam.
The whole procedure “felt like a popping balloon.”
“I couldn’t feel the incision because of the local anesthetic, but I could feel the tube going into the sac,” said Gonzalez, who was awake during the procedure. “It was like this huge weight had been lifted off. It just floated away and I could see her face,” the mom added.
The peach-sized tumor could not be removed through the tiny hole in the amniotic sac, so it remained floating in Gonzalez’s womb till the baby was delivered about five months later on Oct. 1, 2010.
When Leyna came into the world, weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce (approx. 4 kg), the tumor floating in Gonzalez’s womb had shrunken to the size of a Ritz cracker. The only remnant of Leyna’s surgery is “a tiny scar on the roof of her mouth.”
“They are her saviors,” a teary Gonzalez thanked the doctors. “She wouldn’t be here without them.”
“She’s grateful that we offered her this chance,” Dr. Quintero said. “But we couldn’t have offered her the chance if she hadn’t had the courage.”
In June 2012, a vibrant 20-month-old Leyna walked down the hall at Jackson Memorial Hospital with her parents. She’s energetic just like any other toddler—no one could have imagined the little girl had a close brush with death even before she was born.
“She’s perfectly normal, thank God,” said mother Tammy.
Below is a recent photo of Leyna. What a beautiful girl she has become!
Watch the video: