Team Of Surgeons Remove Tumor Attached To Heart Of 26-Week-Old Fetus

Ashley Hunte
Surgeons working on a patient (not actual photo).
Unsplash | JAFAR AHMED

The medical world is full of wonder and breakthrough. What we might not have thought was possible 50 years ago, 10 years ago, or even a couple years ago, might not only be possible now, but a fairly common occurrence.

In spring of 2021, a team of doctors performed a complex, life-saving surgery on an unborn fetus. The 26-week-old fetus, still in his mother's womb, had been faced with an incredibly rare heart condition that resulted in a growing, fluid-filled tumor attached to his heart.

Performed by the Cleveland Clinic, the surgery is among the first of its kind. Earlier this week, the news made its way to the Next F***ing Level Sub on Reddit, where it gained tons of praise and appreciation.

Sam And Dave Drinnon Were Expecting Their Second Baby In 2021.

Initially, the Drinnons believed their unborn son would not make it.
Cleveland Clinic | Cleveland Clinic

Sam Drinnon had been pregnant once before, and the delivery of her first-born had been smooth. In late April of 2021, however, while about 25 weeks pregnant with her second-born, Sam went in for a routine checkup, only to be met with devastating news. The fetus, a male who was to be named Ryland, suffered from intrapericardial teratoma (a tumor on the heart) with fetal hydrops (fluid accumulation around the heart).

According to the Cleveland Clinic, this condition happens at a rate of about 1 in 100,000 pregnancies. It's so rare, very few studies have been published about it. While the Drinnons were initially concerned that they would lose their baby, the doctors office that discovered the condition sent the family to the Cleveland Clinic to see if there was anything they could do to save his life.

Amazingly, They Were Able To Perform The Surgery.

On May 7, 2021, a team of multidisciplinary doctors and nurses assembled to perform the life-saving surgery on the fetus, which was 26 weeks old by that time.

The procedure included putting Sam under anesthesia in order to create a C-section-like incision on her uterus, exposing the fetus. Doctors then lifted the fetus's body out of the uterus, while leaving his head inside. From there, they were able to create an incision on his chest, remove the tumor, close the wound, place him back inside the uterus, and then finally close the wound on Sam.

The surgery was a success, with the fetus being able to continue gestating inside of his mother's womb until she made it to term. Ryland Harrison Drinnon was born via C-section about 10 weeks later, on July 13, 2021.

The Cleveland Clinic Is The Second Medical Center In The World To Perform This Surgery Successfully.

Sam and Dave are overjoyed to have Ryland in the world.
Cleveland Clinic | Cleveland Clinic

Amazingly, both Sam and Ryland were able to recover after the surgery. As of December 2021, about five months after Ryland's birth, he remained healthy and free of any heart problems. The Cleveland Clinic stated that they would continue to monitor the baby's health and development.

A Year Later, The News Gained A Lot Of Attention On Reddit.

A video of a CGI recreation of the procedure was uploaded to Reddit on December 20, 2022, by user Wololo--Wololo. In just two short days, it was upvoted over 15,000 times.

The Internet Was Amazed By The Procedure.

Users discuss how amazing the surgery was.
reddit | tlaw23

Rather than one surgeon perform the procedure, it was a group of doctors among various pediatric and cariological sub-disciplines who all worked together to save the fetus's life. Users were amazed by their hard work (and made a joke or two at the same time).