During Kat Stahl’s 20-week ultrasound, they saw an adorable little face, small arms, and legs.
However, the technician spotted a growth that was not supposed to be there.
Kat, 33, and Justin, 38 were sent to another hospital for more detailed observation. That same day, their little girl was diagnosed with Sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT). Their baby had a tumor growing from her pelvis both outside and inside her body.
The growth appeared to be solid and also had its own blood supply. The tumor, which was already more than a third the size of the girl, put extreme strain on her heart.
“It’s like supporting twins,” Justin expressed. “That’s how big it was.”
The parents were told that they could terminate the pregnancy or they could deliver when the baby’s heart started to fail.
Kat told PEOPLE: “No. We won’t consider termination.”
The following day, another doctor also said that termination would be a good option.
“The doctor was saying with pretty much certainty that this baby wasn’t going to make it,” Kat expressed.
But they didn’t want to let their baby go. “We looked at each other and said, ‘We’re going to fight for her. She’s going to fight,’” Justin said.
They spent the next few days praying, crying and meeting with other doctors. A pediatric surgeon at another hospital said she didn’t have enough experience with a tumor like this but believed that it might be operable.
The parents started researching online and found that Texas Children’s Hospital has seen 52 tumors like their baby Lucy June’s since 2001.
Kat made an appointment immediately and a surgeon told her that they had seen babies with much bigger tumors.
“He said, ‘There’s no question: This is operable. ‘We’ve seen worse,’ ” Kat shared. “He said, ‘I can’t guarantee a good outcome, but this is definitely something we can do.’”
She added: “It’s so important to have a medical team that believes your baby can make it.”
After two months, her baby was born 10 weeks early via C-section, weighing 9 lbs., 1 oz. because of the tumor.
Surgeons started operating on the little girl. Dr. Oluyinka Oluyote, the pediatric surgeon, said: “Her surgery was quite interesting. It was a challenging operation. It was an unusual operation — most babies that have that, they don’t survive to get the surgery.”
The tumor extended to her abdomen and was pressing on Lucy’s internal organs but the tumor did not damage or constrict them.
“Every piece of good news we could have had was coming out of his mouth,” Justin said. “The man just saved our family. He changed the course of our lives — and our family — forever.”
After the surgery, Lucy weighed 6 lbs. When her swelling disappeared, she weighed only 3 lbs. 15 oz. She stayed in the hospital for two months and went home weighing 6 lbs. 7 oz.
“She looks very healthy,” Olutoye said after checking on Lucy. “She’s a cheerful baby, very calm and content.”
The doctor added: “The good news for Lucy is she’s already defied the odds. Very few people thought she would make it to term, or even delivery — much less making it through surgery. Now, she’s a thriving infant. We’ll make sure Lucy continues to thrive.”
“This family really just held out hope for their child, and held onto their faith to sustain them through dark times when everything looked hopeless. It’s really short of a miracle.”
“We fought for Lucy,” Kat said. “We’re just so happy to have her in our arms.”
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