Cleveland clinic performs rare surgery to remove baby’s tumor while in womb

A rare surgery to remove a tumor from the heart of a 25-week old baby was performed in Cleveland in April, and thanks to its success, Ryland Drinnon was born in July and is thriving at home with his parents.

When Sam Drinnon was 25 weeks into her pregnancy, she was told by doctors an ultrasound had revealed a tumor pressing on the left side of the baby’s heart, causing circulation issues. In order to have a successful pregnancy, Drinnon was told she needed a rare surgery, in which a surgeon would operate on the fetus while it remained in the uterus.

Drinnon entered surgery less than 36 hours later, and Dr. Hani Najm, chair of pediatric and congenital heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, performed the delicate feat.

Dr. Najm had to open Drinnon’s abdomen and uterus, then staff lifted the baby’s arms so the doctor could “enter the chest cavity, remove the tumor and restore blood flow, according to Today.

Another surgeon, Dr. Darrell Cass, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Fetal Surgery and Fetal Care Center, then took over and reinserted the fetus into the uterus to continue a viable pregnancy. Cass told Today in an interview that there have been only “a handful of cases” in the world where this surgery had been attempted.

The surgery was successful, and Drinnon and her husband welcomed baby Ryland on July 13. He was delivered at nearly full-term by cesarean section. Ryland’s father, David Drinnon told Today. Looking back, the surgery is “wild to think about. We tell the story to people and they’re just like, ‘Wait a minute. They did what?’ Like, yeah, they did that. They saved him. And it’s amazing. It’s a miracle.”




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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