23/06/2012 12:21 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

World First: Doctors Save Unborn Baby By Removing Mouth Tumour In The Womb

World first: Doctors save unborn baby by removing tumour in the womb Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami

Surgeons have removed a tumour from the mouth of a foetus in the first ever surgery of its kind. Five months after the 'world first' operation baby Leyna was born.

At a routine 17-week scan, mum Tammy Gonzalez said she 'could see a bubble' coming out of her baby's mouth. In fact it was a rare tumour the size of a peach growing from her mouth.

Doctors told Tammy there was little chance her daughter would survive birth – and if she did, she would require an immediate tracheotomy in order to breath and have multiple surgeries thereafter.

Tammy was devastated. Her baby was already kicking.

But after the pioneering operation at 21 weeks in the womb, Leyna was born in October 2010 weighing 8lb 1oz. At the press conference today she was a healthy and happy 20-month-old child. The only sign of her life-saving surgery is a tiny scar on her mouth.

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.

Doctors at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida, said this type of tumour was so rare it occurs in only 1 in 100,000 pregnancies.

In the procedure, Mrs 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 tumour from Leyna's lips. The operation lasted just over an hour.

Tammy told a press conference in Miami how she was awake during the operation: "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 - and it was perfect."

She described the surgeons as 'saviours'.

The doctors said: "To our knowledge, this is the first successful treatment of a foetal oral teratoma in utero."

How amazing!