Baby undergoes successful operation to remove tumour

Jeslyn Lim will feel no lasting effect from the tumour, according to her parents. She will stay at KKH for a week to recuperate and for monitoring, and will need to return to the hospital once a month for check-ups.
Jeslyn Lim will feel no lasting effect from the tumour, according to her parents. She will stay at KKH for a week to recuperate and for monitoring, and will need to return to the hospital once a month for check-ups. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JUNAIDI LIM

She had glimpsed her baby girl just twice after giving birth to her on Nov 23.

Housewife Novi Ratna Sari was still recovering from the caesarean section in her Batam home when her critically ill daughter was taken to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) in Singapore for treatment.

Yesterday, mother and child were finally reunited after little Jeslyn Lim had a successful operation to remove a tumour at the base of her spine that was larger than the baby's own body.

Ms Novi, 22, had made a snap decision to come to Singapore yesterday after hearing on Thursday that Jeslyn's condition had taken a turn for the worse. Her white blood cell count had dropped, potentially weakening her immune system.

Jeslyn had a rare condition known as sacrococcygeal teratoma, a tumour formed before birth that occurs in one in 35,000 to 40,000 live births. She weighed 7.3kg at birth because of the tumour, more than twice that of an average newborn baby.

But at about 8pm on Thursday, her condition stabilised, and doctors were able to go ahead with the operation as scheduled.

Jeslyn will feel no lasting effect from the tumour, her parents said. She will stay at KKH for a week to recuperate and for monitoring, and will need to return to the hospital once a month for check-ups.

A doctor in Batam had alerted a contact at the Rotary E-Club of Singapore, a social services organisation after the hospital Jeslyn had been moved to was unable to help her.

Ms Novi and her husband, 28-year-old storeman Junaidi Lim, had known of the growth since around her 16th week of pregnancy but had not expected it to be so large.

The 24cm-long and 15cm-wide tumour was not malignant but put a strain on Jeslyn's heart, as a large part of it was made of solid tissue fed by blood vessels.

"I burst into tears when I saw the state that Jeslyn was in at birth. As a mother, I would have accepted her as she was, but how could a small child like her bear such a great burden and go through so much pain?" recalled Ms Novi.

Now, however, things are looking up.

"I'm looking forward to playing with Jeslyn and cuddling her," said Ms Novi, who will be returning to Batam today while her husband looks after the child.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Baby undergoes successful operation to remove tumour'. Print Edition | Subscribe