When Margaret Boemer went in for her routine 16-week ultrasound she was shocked by what doctors saw on the screen.
Her third child, a girl, had a tumour, a sacrococcygeal teratoma. This rare tumour develops before birth and grows from a baby’s tailbone.
Margaret Boemer, from Texas in the US told CNN that the diagnosis was a shock.
“They saw something on the scan, and the doctor came in and told us that there was something seriously wrong with our baby and that she had a sacrococcygeal teratoma,” Boemer said.
“And it was very shocking and scary, because we didn’t know what that long word meant or what diagnosis that would bring.”
Margaret Boemer was 23 weeks pregnant when she first 'gave birth'. Via Facebook.
The tumour is more common in girls than boys and is relatively rare, occurring in only one out of every 35,000 births.
At first the advice wasn’t what Margaret and her husband had hoped for, they were told to terminate their baby, but a consultation with Dr Darrell Cass, co-director of Texas Children's Fetal Center brought a different option.
They could remove the baby and operate. Essentially Margaret would give birth at 23 weeks, and then if all goes well the baby would be returned to her uterus and Margaret would continue her pregnancy.
Margaret was told she didn’t have many other choices as the tumour was trying to grow by sucking blood flow from the baby, blood needed from the baby to survive.
"In some instances, the tumour wins and the heart just can't keep up and the heart goes into failure and the baby dies," said Dr Cass.
Margaret told CNN: "At 23 weeks, the tumour was shutting her heart down and causing her to go into cardiac failure, so it was a choice of allowing the tumour to take over her body or giving her a chance at life.
"It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life."
At 23 weeks and five days, Margaret braced herself for surgery. She was told it would not be easy and the baby's chances of survival could be slim.