CLEVELAND -- A human baby is so fragile at birth. One born premature even more so. But little Delaney Sanders carried the additional weight of a rare medical condition that some expected would crush her.
Two tumors, called sacryoccygeal teratoma included one the size of a grapefruit in her abdomen, the other the size of a lemon on her backside. When her mother, Vera, learned about her daughter's tumors from an ultrasound at 22 weeks, she was given the option to terminate the pregnancy.
"I knew automatically that I wouldn't do that cause she was already real to me I'd felt her moving, heard her heartbeat saw her picture on the screen that wasn't an option to me," Vera says.
Six weeks later, the tumors were causing Delaney's organs to shut down. Her prognosis was very poor and an emergency cesarean section was ordered.
A team of thirty pediatric experts including Vera's OBGYN conducted an orchestrated operation. First on Vera, then on Delaney. But before Delaney's operation, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Edward Barksdale knew he had to make a memory.
"We went there expecting that we may not have a good outcome but hoping for a great outcome but also recognizing that from a compassion standpoint taking pictures of Delaney and video would be something for the parents to remember in the event that the outcome wasn't positive," Dr. Barksdale says.
Teratomas happen in one of 70 thousand births. Doctors don't know why they develop but there's a theory they may be a failed attempt at a twin. The fact that Delaney was born premature and the tumor was stealing her blood supply doctors gave her chance of survival less than five percent.
Dr. Barksdale and his team removed a one pound tumor from an infant that weight only four pounds at birth. The tumor was 3/4 of the size of her body.
She's now 12 days old and in stable condition in the NICU. She still has a few weeks of recovery and growing to do before she'll be able to go home, but her team of doctors is cautiously optimistic that she'll not only survive, but thrive.