Rare surgery saves local child's life
If I say intrapericardial teratoma, it might be the first time you've ever heard of the medical term, and in April of 2021, Sam and David Drinnon heard it for the first time as well.
"I cried, it was hard. I thought I was going to lose him," says Sam Drinnon, Rylan's Mother.
Valley Natives Sam and David now live in Western Pennsylvania. They were expecting their second child in early August, but It wasn't until the end of April during a routine ultrasound, that doctors noticed something wrong with the development of their son's heart.
"She calls me and tells me to go to my parents, you need to pick up Peanut and I'll meet you there and just in her voice, I knew something was wrong. It wasn't good," says David Drinnon, Rylan's Father.
From there Doctors acted fast, Sam and David arrived at the Cleveland Clinic the following Monday for scans and then back on Wednesday only to find out that the tumor on the left side of their baby's heart was growing, and without intervention, the baby would die.
"There was not a lot of information at all because he's so rare, we were very scared," says Sam.
In less than a week, the Cleveland Clinic assembled a team of doctors to perform the fetal resection to remove the tumor. Surgeons started by opening the uterus to take out the arms of the fetus to expose the chest. The team successfully resected the malignant tumor and blood flow was restored.
"Once the tumor was off it was amazing, basically, the left atrium of the heart opened up and you can see blood flow change. Blood that was going backward is now going forward in the right direction, the heart function looked better, and it actually seemed to improve minute by minute," says Dr. Darrell Cass, Director of Fetal Surgery and Fetal Care Center at Cleveland Clinic.
From there, surgeons closed the chest and repositioned him back in the uterus, and ten weeks later on July 13th, Rylan Harrison Drinnon was born.
The surgery was a rare one, and the Cleveland Clinic is now only the second hospital in the world to successfully perform it.
Rylan's home and doing better each day. He's still being monitored by doctors and has just one more surgery to go.
This now family of four, despite the odds, has something extra special to give thanks for this holiday season.