Doctors remove tumor from baby in mom's womb

Girl born healthy 4 months after surgery

Published On: Jun 21 2012 12:02:54 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 21 2012 05:51:03 PM EDT
MIAMI -

Doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital spoke Thursday about a surgery they performed on an unborn baby who had a tumor growing on her mouth.

Leyna Gonzalez is a healthy 20-month-old girl now, but her mother, Tammy Gonzalez, was told her daughter might not survive birth.

"I found out she was a girl," Tammy Gonzalez said. "I had exactly one week of happiness before this occurred."

Midway through the pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed what appeared to be Tammy Gonzalez's unborn daughter blowing a bubble. But, doctors determined that the "bubble" was a large tumor growing from the baby's mouth.

Doctors broke the news to Gonzalez that her baby might not make it, and if she did, she would require several surgeries.

"It's the most horrible feeling you could ever imagine, physically, emotionally, mentally. What do you do?" Tammy Gonzalez said.

"The concern with these tumors is they can grow very rapidly. They can cause bleeding, which can cause the death of the baby," said fetal surgeon Dr. Ruben Quintero.

Jackson fetal surgeons performed a one-of-a-kind operation. While under anesthesia, Tammy Gonzalez watched as doctors used a laser to cut the tumor and clear her daughter's mouth.

Four months later, Leyna was born, a healthy 8-pound, 1-ounce baby girl with no sign of a tumor.

"We think the world of the doctors. They are our saviors. She wouldn't be here," Tammy Gonzalez said.