“They told us that we could either terminate or take our chances.”
That was the advice doctors gave Eleanor (El) and Matt Garrett when they learned their unborn baby had formed a large mass called an Sacrococcygeal Teratoma, or SCT.
Though not cancerous, the tumor can grow as large as the baby, causing fetal heart failure, putting the mother in danger as well. (For more information on SCT, click here.)
Photo Credit: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
This is a picture of the MRI of baby Emily, showing how large the tumor was months before she was born.
Photo Credit: NBC10.com
Instead of ending her pregnancy, however, the couple decided to seek help from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But El sensed a problem 34 weeks into her pregnancy.
“I woke up that morning crying hysterically,” said El. “I said, ‘Something is wrong. I just know something is wrong.’”
The tumor was hemorrhaging. El had an emergency C-section in the hospital’s special delivery unit, giving doctors immediate access to the baby.
“I think in her case especially it was lifesaving,” said Dr. Holly Hedrick who performed the surgery. “We were able to stop the bleeding and she was stabilized. We operated the next day for removal of the mass.”
“One doctor said if we had waited another day she wouldn’t have made it,” said Matt.
“The tumor started at her tailbone and went down to her feet,” said Dr. Hedrick.
Amazingly, 34 days later, little Emily is going home.
“It’s been a roller coaster but I’m thankful for every day we have with her,” said Matt.
“If she were born where they weren’t prepared it may not have been a happy ending,” said Dr. Hedrick.
Emily will be closely monitored in case of a recurrence of the tumor. Doctors say she should have a totally normal life however.