Saved with just moments to spare, the twin born with a cancerous tumour crushing her windpipe
Isabel Roberts born with tumour on neck that weighed a sixth of her weight
Doctors raced to save her life by creating an airway so she can breatheTumour was cancerous but she is responding well to treatment
13:20 GMT, 1 February 2013
14:56 GMT, 1 February 2013
A baby girl nearly died after she was born with a tumour crushing her windpipe.
Doctors had to race to save Isabel Roberts' life by creating an airway so she can breathe.
The tumour weighed 0.6lb – a sixth of her 3lb 9oz weight when she was born. Had she not been born by Caesarean section, she would have been unable to breathe because the tumour was pressing down so hard on her airway.
And the pioneering operation she had to remove it is a UK first, doctors say.
Isabel was born after her twin sister Alexandra, who arrived without any problems.
Isabel Roberts (left) with mother Maureen and twin sister Alexandra. Isabel was born with a cancerous tumour the size of an orange on her neck, which left her struggling to breathe
But the surgical team from Sheffield Children's Hospital and Sheffield's Jessops maternity hospital were faced with a much more complex situation with Isabel.
They had to free her head from the uterus, allowing her to continue getting oxygen from the umbilical cord as they fitted a tube down her constricted throat to enable her to start breathing normally.
Dr Ayman Eissa, the consultant
anaesthetist at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust who found and
secured Isabel's airway during the 'exit procedure', said: 'As soon as
the baby's head was out of the uterus it was a race against time.
'We estimate the placenta will
continue to supply oxygen through the cord for up to five minutes, but
you can never be sure, it could break off at any time.
'The baby was so small and the tumour
so big, it was a very difficult job to secure the airway. The relief
when I secured the tube was unimaginable. It was definitely the most
stressful few minutes of my career.'
Isabel's mother Maureen, from Hoyland, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said they found out she had an abnormal mass at an ultrasound scan 33 weeks into the pregnancy.
She said: 'The few weeks leading
up to and after the twins' arrival were a blur, it's crazy to think
just how much has happened to my baby. I can remember walking into the
operating theatre to have the caesarean and not knowing what was going
to have happened when I woke up.'
When doctors weighed the tumour, they found it accounted for a sixth of Isabel's body weight. She is now responding well to treatment
The orange-sized tumour was removed 10 days after the twins was born and specialists believe Isabel has every chance of making a full recovery.
The twins, who are now 16 weeks old, are now back home with their parents and older sisters Sarah, 16, and Olivia, 11.
Neil Bateman, the consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon, who removed Isabel's tumour said: 'The tumour was sitting right on the trachea and was very close to her major arteries.
'It was tricky to remove, but I managed to get it all.
'When we weighed the tumour it accounted for one sixth of her entire body weight. It is very rare for a baby to develop a tumour of this size in the womb.'
Tests showed the tumour was cancerous and Isabel was put on a course of chemotherapy at the Children's Hospital after her birth, which is continuing.
Mr Roberts said: 'Isabel looked so much better after Mr Bateman removed the tumour. Her head was not forced back anymore, she looked like a normal baby.
'Then we found out she had cancer, it was unbelievable.'
But Dr Anna Jenkins, who is treating Isabel, said she should recover fully.
She said: 'It is very rare for a baby to be born with such a large cancerous tumour.
'She is coping well with treatment. The cancer hasn't spread and we are expecting her to make a full recovery.'
Mrs Roberts said: 'I was really nervous going home for the first time without the support of the nurses, but it was also such a relief and meant Isabel was getting better and we could be a family.
'We only have to go to the hospital every three weeks for chemotherapy at the moment, and she's getting stronger every day.'