A British woman and her baby were saved by doctors last summer, who removed a massive tumor that was cutting off blood and oxygen to the pair.
Nicola Ellington, of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was excited to be pregnant for the first time. Little did she know that her pregnancy would be complicated by a tumor that had remained dormant in her body since birth.
Ellington, 26, began to feel pain in her chest only 13 weeks into her pregnancy. “The pain was indescribable and it started not long after I became pregnant,” she told the Telegraph. “It felt like my chest was being crushed.”
At first, she was told by her GP that she was suffering from anxiety or an enlarged heart. After further incidents, she was given morphine to handle her pain issues. But it wasn’t until her GP sent her to University Hospital in Coventry that the true source of the pain was found — a teratoma tumor nearly the size of a watermelon in her chest.
Dr. Dawn Adamson, who spotted the tumor, was surprised by the size of the tumor. “We think the hormones produced during pregnancy can trigger the growth of these types of rare tumors,” Adamson told the Telegraph. “None of us had ever seen anything like this before in pregnancy.”
Teratoma tumors are typically remnants of pregnancy, often discovered as a mass of malignant tissue later in life. “These tumors are made up of embryonic cells formed in the womb which should form parts of a developing baby, but instead they lay dormant and later develop into a tumor,” explained Adamson.
Doctors first asked Ellington if she wanted to go through an abortion as it would make removal of the tumor much safer for her. She instead opted to keep the baby and have the surgery 16 weeks into the pregnancy. But when the tumor began cutting off the oxygen supply to the fetus at 13 weeks, doctors were forced into action to save Ellington and her baby, Layla Sky.
Ellington was in surgery for two hours as doctors carefully worked to cut out the mass of tissue. She says she was told very little until after the surgery in order to keep her from worrying too much. “I remember after the operation I was shown the scans showing Layla was alright and the ‘monster’ had gone. I was so relieved.”
Ellington was kept in the care of the hospital until Layla Sky was born in December. Today, both have a clean bill of health. “It is brilliant that we are both fit and healthy,” she told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph. “I really can’t thank the surgeons enough.”