A baby girl in Texas was born twice after doctors removed her from her mom’s womb to perform life-saving surgery before putting her back inside.
Doctors found a tumor on little Lynlee Boemer’s tailbone during a routine ultrasound just 16 weeks into her mom Margaret’s pregnancy.
Her only hope of survival was a medical procedure that involved surgeons taking her out of the womb for 20 minutes when she weighed just over 1 pound.
She was then put back inside her mom’s uterus where she remained for another 12 weeks — almost making it to full term — before Lynlee once again came into the world.
The miracle baby weighed 5 pounds when she was born again and following a brief check up she was taken to the nursery to be with the other babies.
Margaret had feared the worst when she received the news after the ultrasound telling CNN at Texas Children’s Hospital: “They saw something on the scan, and the doctor came in and told us that there was something seriously wrong with our baby and that she had a sacrococcygeal teratoma.”
“And it was very shocking and scary, because we didn’t know what that long word meant or what diagnosis that would bring.”
A sacrococcygeal teratoma is a tumor that develops before birth growing from a fetus’ tailbone.
According to Darrell Cass, the co-director of the Texas Children’s Fetal Center, it is the “most common tumor we see in a newborn,” but “even though it’s the most common we see, it’s still pretty rare.”
The complication, which is more common in girls than boys, affects one in 35,000 births.
Cass continued saying: “Some of these tumors can be very well-tolerated, so the fetus has it and can get born with it and we can take it out after the baby’s born.”
“But about half of the time, they cause problems for the fetus and it’s usually causing problems because of a blood flow problem.”
“And in some instances, the tumor wins and the heart just can’t keep up and the heart goes into failure and the baby dies.”
One option was terminating the pregnancy but Margaret was reluctant having already lost Lynlee’s twin before the second trimester.
Margaret said: “Lynlee didn’t have much of a chance. 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.”
The surgery in total took five hours but the part on the fetus only lasted 20 minutes.
Cass said: “We don’t want the mom’s health to be jeopardized.”
“Essentially, the fetus is outside, like completely out, all the amniotic fluid falls out, it’s actually fairly dramatic.”
During the surgery, Lynlee’s heart slowed to a virtual stop but she was kept alive by a specialist as doctors removed the bulk of the growth.
When they had done as much as possible she was put back in the womb.
At eight days old she had one more ordeal on the operating table when the surgeons went back in to remove small bits of the tumor they hadn’t been able to reach the first time and were growing again.
Several weeks later, after making a full recovery, Margaret was allowed to take baby Lynlee home.
She said: “It was her second birth, basically. I was willing to endure all those risks to give her a chance at life.”
This article originally appeared on News.com.au.