One of the most anticipated milestones during a new mom’s pregnancy is that first major ultrasound. It’s essentially the first time that the parents really get to see their new baby, and they tattoo that image on their memories for the following months, until they get to meet their baby in person.
Oftentimes, funny images show up in routine ultrasounds, such as a baby holding his arm up against his head or a leg in an awkward position. And sometimes it looks as if a baby is blowing a bubble, which is a fairly common thing to come across during a routine ultrasound. Unless, of course that bubble is giant.
When Miami resident and new mom, Tammy Gonzalez, noticed what appeared to be a giant bubble blown from the mouth of her baby in the ultrasound image, she didn’t think too much about it. But, luckily she asked her doctors if the image was any cause for worry.
It turned out that the bubble was actually much worse than a cute image of her baby blowing a giant bubble. Instead, it was an extremely rare and oddly fatal tumor known as a teratoma, which is found in an estimated 1 in every 100,000 births. Evidently, the teratoma was stemming from the child’s mouth, growing into what appeared to be a giant bubble.
At that point, a devastated Gonzalez was left with the recommendation that she terminate the pregnancy, stating that the tumor could get worse if she carried to full term.
“They told me that type of tumor can grow so fast,” said Gonzalez. “I said, ‘There must be something we can do.’”
And Gonzalez soon learned that her instincts were right and she came across a procedure known as endoscopic surgery, which had never been attempted before. She was willing to take the chance and allow the doctors to try out the procedure in hopes of saving her baby.
When the doctors agreed to the surgery, Gonzalez immediately scheduled the procedure, not even questioning her own safety.
Director of the Fetal Therapy Center at Jackson Memorial, Dr. Ruben Quintero conducted the surgical procedure for the first time ever. He used advanced technology to snake a miniature camera along with surgical tools through a quarter-inch incision in Gonzalez’s stomach and into the amniotic sac.
The camera gave Quintero access that allowed him to view the tumor close-up and he was able to asses the risk of cutting it off.
Because the tumor was so large, the doctor was unable to remove it from the amniotic cell sack, so it remained floating in the womb until she delivered the baby four months later. When it came out during birth, the tumor was much smaller than it had been in the ultrasound months before.
Her daughter Leyna was born completely healthy. The only evidence of the frightening incident, is a tiny scar on the roof of her mouth.