A 12-day-old Indonesian baby girl, who arrived in Singapore earlier this week to have an operation to remove a tumour bigger than her own body is in critical condition with multiple-organ failure.
KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) doctors, who had planned to operate on Jeslyn Lim today, have postponed the surgery.
Associate Professor Ng Kee Chong, chairman of the division of medicine at KKH, said the baby was "critically ill with multiple-organ failure" when she arrived at the hospital. He said: "We are doing all we can to provide the best care and treatment for the patient."
Jeslyn has a rare condition known as sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT), 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 at the base of her tailbone. A newborn infant weighs about 3.5kg on average.
She was moved to Singapore after a doctor in Batam alerted a contact at a humanitarian organisation here. Mr Christopher Bek, 61, chairman of the disaster relief committee in Rotary District 3310, said: "My job is to help save lives. I was shocked when I heard about Jeslyn's condition as it was definitely a medical case I had never encountered. I had to step in to offer assistance as no one in Indonesia was able to help."
WORTH THE RISK
We knew that the foetus had a growth, but we were determined to keep the child. Our first child, whom we had tried for in 2013, was stillborn.
MR JUNAIDI LIM (left), on why he and his wife chose to have the baby even though ultrasound scans had diagnosed her condition
Her parents were told that an operation to remove the tumour would take at least six hours and had an 80 per cent chance of success, though the risk of complication is high as part of the tumour extends into the pelvis.
A large proportion of the 24cm-long and 15cm-wide tumour is made up of solid tissue fed by blood, putting considerable strain on Jeslyn's heart. In addition, she has atrial septal defect, a hole in the muscular wall of her heart, which leads to reduced oxygen supply to the brain, organs and tissue.
She also has anaemia, a deficiency of red blood cells in the blood, and needs breathing support.
Doctors in Batam diagnosed her condition from ultrasound scans when her mother, housewife Novi Ratna Sari, 22, was about five months pregnant."We knew that the foetus had a growth, but we were determined to keep the child. Our first child, whom we had tried for in 2013, was stillborn," her father, 28-year-old storeman Junaidi Lim, told The Straits Times, speaking in Bahasa Indonesia through a translator.
What they did not expect, however, was that the growth was bigger than the baby herself.
Ms Sari gave birth via caesarean section at the RS Santa Elisabeth hospital in Batam, and is now at home. As the hospital lacked the resources to deal with Jeslyn's complex situation, she was transferred to the RS Awal Bros hospital in Batam on Nov 25, but it too was unable to help her.
The hospital contacted Mr Bek, who arranged for Mr Lim is the family's sole breadwinner and earns about $500 a month, but his worries about the cost of hospitalisation have been set aside as his daughter fights for her life. "It breaks my heart to see my child in this condition, but we have no regrets about bringing her into this world," he said.
- Additional reporting by Zhaki Abdullah