Surgeons at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida have removed a tumor from the mouth of a foetus, in what has been described as a “world first” procedure.
After a scan at 17 weeks, mother Tammy Gonzalez said she “could see a bubble” coming out of her baby’s mouth.
Doctors said it was a very rare tumor called an oral teratoma and there was little chance her daughter would survive.
After the pioneering operation, baby Leyna was born five months later.
Doctors at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida, said this type of tumor was so rare it had been seen only once in 20 years at the hospital.
In the procedure, Tammy Gonzalez was put under a local anaesthetic as a needle was pushed through the protective amniotic sac around the foetus.
A laser was then used to cut the tumor from Leyna’s lips. The operation lasted just over an hour.
Surgeons at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida have removed a tumor from the mouth of a foetus, in what has been described as a "world first" procedure
Tammy Gonzalez told a press conference in Miami: “When they finally severed the whole thing off and I could see it floating down, it was like this huge weight had been lifted off me and I could finally see her face.”
She described the surgeons as “saviors”.
The doctors said: “To our knowledge, this is the first successful treatment of a foetal oral teratoma in utero.”
Leyna Mykaella Gonzalez was born in October 2010 weighing 8lb 1oz. She is now a healthy 20-month-old child.
The only sign of her life-saving surgery is a tiny scar on her mouth.
The details have only just emerged after the operation was reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
A picture of a foetus whose mother Feng Jiamei was forced to have an abortion has shocked China web users.
Feng Jiamei, from Shaanxi province, was made to undergo the procedure in the seventh month of pregnancy, local officials said after investigating.
Feng Jiamei was forced into the abortion as she could not pay the fine for having a second child, US-based activists said.
Rights groups say China’s one-child policy has meant women being coerced into abortions, which Beijing denies.
“Feng Jianmei’s story demonstrates how the One-Child Policy continues to sanction violence against women every day,” said Chai Ling of the US-based activist group All Girls Allowed.
Feng Jiamei was forced into the abortion as she could not pay the fine for having a second child, US-based activists said
The group says it spoke to Feng Jiamei and her husband Deng Jiyuan after the incident.
Deng Jiyuan said his wife had been forcibly taken to hospital and restrained before the procedure.
Such allegations are nothing new in China, but what has made this one different is a widely circulated photo of the woman lying next to the baby’s corpse.
Media reports from China says Feng Jiamei has been traumatized by what has happened.
Unnamed local officials in Zhenping county – where the incident took place – denied forcing Feng Jiamei to have the abortion, local media reports say.
But a preliminary investigation by the Shaanxi Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission confirmed the forced abortion had taken place.
Without naming Feng Jiamei, it said in a statement that the woman had been seven months pregnant.
“Such practice has seriously violated the relevant policies set by national and provincial family planning commissions, which harmed the image of our family planning work, and caused extremely poor effects in society,” said the statement.
“Based on the findings, we have requested the local government to punish the relevant officers according to law,” it said.
Internet users expressed outrage.
“This is what they say the Japanese devils and Nazis did. But it’s happening in reality and it is by no means the only case… They [the officials] should be executed,” one reader on news website netease.com said, according to the AFP news agency.
Activist Chen Guangcheng, who was put under virtual house arrest for campaigning against forced abortions, fled China to the US last month.
US researchers have used a blood sample from mother and saliva from father to sequence the genome of a foetus in the womb.
At the time, the mother was just 18 weeks into the pregnancy.
The doctors said the findings, reported in Science Translational Medicine, could eventually lead to foetuses being screened for thousands of genetic disorders in a single and safe test.
However, they also caution it would raise “many ethical questions”.
US researchers have used a blood sample from mother and saliva from father to sequence the genome of a foetus in the womb
The scientists at the University of Washington used pieces of the foetus’ DNA which naturally float around in the pregnant woman’s blood.
These fragments were then pieced together using the parents’ DNA as a guide to build a complete “map” of the foetus’s genome.
They then compared the genetic map drawn 18 weeks into pregnancy with the foetus’ actual DNA taken from the umbilical cord after birth. It was 98% accurate.
The researchers hope their findings will one day be used to test safely for genetic diseases.
Tests do already exist such as those for Down’s syndrome. To test for Down’s syndrome a sample is taken from the sac around the developing foetus, which comes with a risk of miscarriage.
They also say new genetic defects, which are not present in the parents, could be picked up if the technique could be improved. Such mutations form in the eggs, sperm or at conception.
There were 44 new mutations in the foetus and the screen at 18 weeks found 39 of them. However, the screening also detected 25 million possible new mutations or false positives.
One of the researchers, Dr. Jay Shendure, said: “This work opens up the possibility that we will be able to scan the whole genome of the foetus for more than 3,000 single-gene disorders through a single, non-invasive test.”