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New Minas newborn's rare heart tumour removed

Addison Rose Wagner
Addison Rose Wagner - Submitted

HALIFAX - Jonathan Wagner sat in the hospital June 11 waiting for his wife, baby girl and the drive home to New Minas.

“I just went up to her room and gathered all her stuff,” said Wagner, referring to his daughter Addison Rose Wagner and sounding cheerful on the phone from the IWK Health Centre. “We just got discharged.”

It was a good day, he said, in contrast to the many stressful and anxious days that he and his wife, Allison Williams, have faced since last month when an ultrasound picked up a tumour on their baby’s heart.

“My wife went in for an unexpected ultrasound, she was measuring two weeks ahead of schedule, her belly was two weeks bigger than it should have been,” Wagner recounted.

Their gynecologist, Dr. Michael Rudd, sent Williams to the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville for an ultrasound on May 11 and the next morning they were told something was wrong.

“Her doctor’s office had called and said they just went over the results of the ultrasound and there was something showing that shouldn’t have been there,” Wagner said. “We had to get to the IWK pretty well as soon as possible. It was (scary).”

Addison was born May 18 by Cesarean section and immediately underwent a six-hour surgery to remove most of the four-centimetre pediatric teratoma from her heart.

Wagner said the doctors told the family only about one in 30,000 babies develops this type of tumour and it’s particularly rare in female babies.

Nobody from the IWK’s cardiac surgery department was available for an interview June 11.

Even after the operation, the family couldn’t rest easy. They had to wait two weeks for the results of a biopsy that indicated whether or not Addison’s tumour was malignant. If so, a risky surgery would have had to be done on a sliver of tumour that was left on an artery.

It turned out the tumour was benign.

“Thank God for her gynecologist that he had decided to send her for that ultrasound,” Wagner said, because if doctors hadn’t known there was a tumour, the baby would have been delivered vaginally in Kentville.

“There’s about a 90 per cent chance she wouldn’t have (survived) natural birth” because the tumour was cutting off blood circulation to Addison’s heart.

“She wouldn’t have made it by helicopter (to the IWK); there just wouldn’t have been enough time.”

A month after her surgery, Addison appears to be doing well although not surprisingly her doctors will be keeping a close eye on her.

The family must return to Halifax in short order for the first of many checkups.

“Once every two or three weeks they want us to return to the IWK and they’re going to continue with the scans and the MRIs and what-not just to make sure the tumour doesn’t come back,” Wagner said.

“Everything else seems perfect.”

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