LynLee Boemer was born twice. While she was still in utero, CNN reports, doctors discovered that LynLee, now 4 months old, had a rare—and likely fatal—tumor. To save the unborn baby’s life, physicians removed her from the womb, performed emergency surgery, and placed her back inside her mother.
LynLee is the third child of Margaret Boemer of Plano, Texas. Boemer had an unusually rough pregnancy: She was originally expecting twins, but she lost one of the babies. Then, four months into her pregnancy, a routine ultrasound revealed that her surviving infant had a fetal tumor called sacrococcygeal teratoma, which grows from the coccyx, or tailbone. Occurring in one out of every 35,000 births, it’s relatively rare—yet it’s still one of the most common tumors doctors find in newborns, CNN reports.
The news was “very shocking and scary, because we didn't know what that long word meant or what diagnosis that would bring,” Boemer told Carbonated.TV.
The tumor was sucking blood flow from the developing fetus and doctors were afraid the baby would soon die from heart failure. So when Boemer was nearly six months pregnant, doctors from Texas Children's Hospital opened her uterus, removed LynLee from the womb, and operated on the tumor.
By then, the mass was nearly as large as LynLee. “Her heart stopped and she had to have blood but they were able to remove most of the tumor and place her back in,” Boemer told Texas news affiliate KPRC2.
After the surgery, the infant faced risks like premature birth and even death, but she—and her mother—got lucky: On June 6, 2016, Boemer delivered LynLee via C-section. She was healthy, and weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces. Subsequent surgeries were required to remove the rest of the tumor, as was a lengthy recovery in the neonatal intensive care unit. Still, LynLee prevailed, and she was eventually deemed strong enough to send home.
Doctors had to remove her tailbone to prevent the tumor’s return, but aside from that, the Boemer family says she’s perfectly healthy. LynLee is now nearly five months old.