Tumour discovered in Sheffield mum's pregnancy weighed more than her baby
New mum Gemma Fletcher has thanked staff at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for safely delivering her baby before saving her life by removing a tumour so large it weighed more than her baby.
The rare benign tumour, which weighed 7.5pounds, was discovered on one of Gemma’s kidneys 32 weeks into her pregnancy. The diagnosis was made after Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Jessop Wing Hospital, Remon Keriakos, advised that she have scans on her abdomen to investigate the skin itching and anaemia she was suffering with.
Yorkshire Bank employee Gemma, 24, from Chapeltown in Sheffield, and partner Asbestos Remover Michael Kay, 30, were shocked with the diagnosis and understandably worried for the safety of both mum and baby.
Gemma, who suffers from a very rare disease which is believed to be the cause of the tumour, said: “It was around Christmas time when we found out and we were all so worried. Doctors explained that I could have had the tumour all my life but the pregnancy had caused it to grow much faster. Dr Keriakos was brilliant though and made sure that everything that could be done to help me and the baby happened as quickly as possible.”
After the alarming discovery, a multidisciplinary team of radiologists, urologists and obstetricians carefully monitored Gemma and planned the best way to treat and ensure her and the baby’s safety. Doctors explained to Gemma that they would need to deliver the baby first and then shrink the tumour before removing the kidney which the tumour was growing on.
Gemma and Michael were overjoyed when healthy baby Ava Lily was delivered by caesarean section on 30th December 2011 by Mr Keriakos, weighing 6.4 pounds in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. But although baby was now safe, Gemma still had a long road to recovery.
Dr Remon Keriakos explained: “The tumour was full of large blood vessels with many aneurysms (blood-filled balloon-like bulges in the wall of the blood vessels) and carried a risk of rupturing during delivery. We therefore performed a caesarean section to reduce the risk. The caesarean was performed with the interventional radiologists, Dr John Bottomley and Dr Trevor Cleveland, preparing specialist equipment in case Gemma’s condition deteriorated.
As we had anticipated, Gemma had bleeding in the tumour following the delivery and the size of the tumour increased significantly as a result.”
Gemma was then kept in the Intensive Care Unit for 24 hours.
Mr Keriakos added: “She then had the main feeding blood vessels of the tumour blocked by means of coils, plugs and particles introduced through a catheter in her leg blood vessels which went up the tumour. This was performed twice to reduce the size of the tumour, reduce the risk of bleeding in the tumour and to reduce the risk of the bleeding during surgical removal of her kidney.”
While Gemma was having her intensive treatment, staff and her family ensured that the she was able to see and breastfeed Ava Lily.
Gemma said: “It was very important to me to be able to breast feed Ava so I was very grateful to the breastfeeding support workers coming over from the Jessop Wing to the Hallamshire to support me in the difficult few days after the birth.”
She added: “I was so relieved when Ava was born happy and healthy, but as I still had the tumour I still looked pregnant and would get comments about my belly and get asked when I was due.”
Following treatment to shrink the tumour, Gemma’s kidney was removed on 29th February by Mr David J Smith, Consultant Urological Surgeon, to ensure the tumour would not grow back. Since then she has made a full recovery and is enjoying being a mum.
Gemma said: “All the care I received was excellent. I am especially thankful to Dr Keriakos who explained everything so well to me and made me feel at ease at a very scary time. During my time in hospital I saw how hard all the staff worked from the cleaners and nurses to the consultants - so I would like to say a big thank you to all at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for saving my life and my beautiful baby girl.”