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Docs fought 'intensively' to save Batam baby

ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY: Prof Low checking on Jeslyn, with the baby's father, Junaidi Lim, watching on. The baby girl was born with a ball-like tumour extending from her tailbone that was larger than her whole body.


    Dec 18, 2015

    Docs fought 'intensively' to save Batam baby

    WHEN week-old Jeslyn Lim arrived at KK Women's and Children's Hospital on Dec 1, she had a ball-like tumour extending from her tailbone that was larger than her whole body and doctors doubted her chances of survival.

    The Batam-born Indonesian girl suffered from multiple organ failure as a result of it and was in a critical condition.

    Low Yee, 47, the chief surgeon during the operation to remove her rare tumour, known as sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT), yesterday revealed that Jeslyn is now on the road to recovery. She should be discharged soon if no complications occur, said Associate Professor Low.

    Prof Low usually sees SCT cases, which occur in one in 35,000 to 40,000 live births, once or twice a year. But never in her 18-year career in paediatric surgery had she come across a tumour as massive as Jeslyn's, which stretched to 25cm.

    When she was born on Nov 23, she weighed 7.3kg, more than twice an average newborn.

    "When she came to us, she was in heart failure and her liver was not functioning," said Prof Low, who heads the department of paediatric surgery at KKH. "She was dehydrated and critically ill in the emergency department. Our doctors had to intensively resuscitate her within the first 24 to 48 hours."

    Doctors in Batam lacked the resources to help Jeslyn and she was transferred to Singapore with the help of humanitarian organisation, the Rotary E-Club of Singapore.

    "The surface of her tumour was ulcerated. The skin was smelly and discoloured. There had been an obvious infection," said Prof Low.

    Jeslyn also had a heart condition known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). The Ductus Arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects the aorta to the lung vessels in a developing foetus, but should have closed up soon after birth.

    Her severe infection had re-opened this vessel, resulting in increased blood flow to the lungs and consequent breathlessness. The increased blood flow also exacerbated a valve problem (mitral valve regurgitation) that she had, causing abnormal backflow of blood and decreasing supply to the rest of her body. Her heart had also been abnormally enlarged to cope with the demand for blood.

    There was a 50 per cent chance that the four doctors involved in the operation could have run into trouble during surgery to remove the tumour on Dec 4.

    The tumour was removed after a seven-hour operation.

    The PDA has since closed and her condition has stabilised. Her heart failure condition improved significantly, though she still needs oxygen support for now.

    Doctors still face a "minor obstacle" as Jeslyn's surgery wounds became infected after the operation, and she has to be kept under observation until her wounds heal.