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Miracle baby born twice - 'It was a big shock and we were scared'

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It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life.

Margaret Hawkins Boemer went in for a routine ultrasound at 16-weeks pregnant with her third child. Unfortunately, the technician had horrible news for the expectant mother.

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Catholic Online (
10/26/2016 (3 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Baby, born twice, surgery, tumor

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to BBC, little Lynlee Hope was growing in her mother's womb - as was a large tumor attached to her tiny spine.

The tumor was nearly as large as Lynlee, prompting doctors to take extraordinary steps in an attempt to save her.

The tumor, known as sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT), was diverting blood from Lynlee's body, raising her risk of heart failure.

In an interview shared by the Texas Children's Hospital, Boemer said: "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."

Boemer, who was already distraught after losing the child's twin earlier in the pregnancy, was frightened to learn of Lynlee's condition.

She told CBS, "It was a big shock and we were scared. I had just suffered a miscarriage the prior year. To think that I might lose another baby was very hard."

Boemer and her husband Jeff met with doctors at Texas Children's Fetal Center in Houston after other specialists attempted to persuade them to abort the tiny life.

Dr. Darrell Cass, the co-director of Texas Children's Fetal Center and associate professor of surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College Medicine, explained: "This is the most common tumor we see in a newborn. Even though it's the most common we see, it's still pretty rare."

So rare that SCT is only found in one out of every 35,000 births.

"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," Cass described. "But about half of the time, they cause problems for the fetus and it's usually causing problems because of a blood flow problem."

While Lynlee was trying to grow in her mother's womb, the tumor was stealing the child's blood in an attempt to grow as well, making life "a competition."

Cass explained some babies die due to lack of proper blood flow, which results in heart failure. The tumor attached to Lynlee's spine was so large, doctors knew something had to be done.

Boemer realized the importance of getting her child help when, at 23-weeks, Lynlee's heart began to suffer.

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"Lynlee didn't have much of a chance," Boemer recalled. "At 23 weeks, the tumor was shutter 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.

The Washington Post reported the Boemers received a form and were asked: "If she's born, do you want us to do resuscitate if needed? If she's not doing well, do you want us to allow her to pass?"

Boemer burst into tears but said: "To think we had come so far, to ty to save her. I was very nervous and scared...but my husband and I were focused on whatever we needed to do to try to save our baby...

"It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life."

Knowing the surgery could still end in disaster, the Boemers decided to chance it.

At 23-weeks-and-5-days pregnant, Boemer went into the hospital for the 5-hour surgery.

Dr. Cass explained, "The part on the fetus we do very, very quickly. It's only 20 minutes or so on the actual fetus."

The majority of the surgery focuses on the uterus, which Dr. Cass described as "a big muscle lined with membranes."

He and Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, his partner in surgery, worked carefully to make an incision that wouldn't jeopardize Boemer's health.

During the surgery, the doctors realized the tumor was so big the incision had to be unusually large, leaving the baby "hanging out in the air...Essentially, the fetus is outside, like completely out, all the amniotic fluid falls out, it's actually fairly dramatic," Dr. Cass said.

During the delicate procedure, Lynlee's heart slowed until Dr. Cass said, "It basically stopped."

The heart specialist gave her the right dosage of medication and transfused the right amount of fluids to keep mother and daughter alive as the surgeons continued to work.

"It's kind of a miracle you're able to open the uterus like that and seal it all back and the whole thing works," Dr. Cass later said.

After the surgery, Lylnee was returned to the uterus, which was sewn water-tight.

Her mother marshaled through the ensuing pain for the next twelve weeks, when Lynlee Hope reached full term and was born a second time, via C-section.

"Her heart got much better, now that it didn't have to work as hard pumping through this huge tumor," Dr. Olutoye stated.

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Lynlee was born at 5-pounds-5-ounces and was immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit for evaluation.

"Watching Lynlee come out crying and kicking...was really very exciting to see," Dr. Olutoye stated. "Her whole leg [during the surgery] was barely the size of my finger. They grow so much over such a short period of time. You can say she's seen the world twice."

Bits of the tumor the surgeons couldn't safely reach were growing out again and Boemer explained, "At eight days old, she had more surgery, and they were able to remove the rest of the tumor."

Doctors will closely monitor the child and will keep an even closer eye on her pelvic muscles, which may require reconstruction.

Meanwhile, Lynlee recovered in the NICU and, after a few weeks, was able to return home with her family.

She is often seen at the Texas Children's Hospital for regular checkups and Dr. Olutoye said, "We're getting to get very close."

Most of the babies who require such surgeries become close to Dr. Olutoye "before they are born...all the way up into adulthood."

Lynlee is approaching her five-month birthday and is "hitting all her milestones," Boemer said. "It's been kind of overwhelming, how much attention her story's gotten, but we're very thankful.

"I can tell you when we were told this very long name, we were scared and didn't know what that was and had never heard of it. So I'm glad that it's getting attention so that others who are diagnosed can know that they're not alone."

Looking back, Boemer recalled, "It was very difficult...She's doing great now. We're practicing rolling over."

Now, looking at her baby smiling at her older sisters, she added, "It was worth every pain."


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