A benign oral teratoma
When Tricia Coblentz was four months into her second pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed a large, solid mass growing from her baby's mouth. At Boston Children's Hospital's Advanced Fetal Care Center, an MRI confirmed that her baby, Gracie, had a benign oral teratoma—a rare type of non-cancerous tumor that was growing down into Gracie's throat. Fearing that her windpipe would be blocked if the tumor got any bigger, Reza Rahbar, MD, and his team rushed Gracie to the operating room right after she was delivered and removed the majority of the mass. She weighed just 2 pounds, 9 ounces after the removal of the tumor, and stayed in Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for three months. Her struggle was featured in the July edition of Children's News.
Gracie turned 4 last October, and she's had more than a dozen operations, including one to remove the remaining bits of the tumor from her mouth and one to reconstruct her windpipe. She has some hearing and speech problems caused by nerve damage from the tumor, so she's in a special education pre-school and wears a hearing aid. Her protective big brother, Kyle, who's 6, is quick to translate for her when people can't understand what she's saying, but her speech difficulty will be greatly improved after speech therapy and her next surgery.
Gracie's impairment hasn't affected her demeanor one bit, according to Tricia, who says her daughter is "always beaming and smiling." She loves playing with her dog, Scruffy, riding scooters with Kyle and playing dress-up. She's also got her ABCs down pat, just learned how to write "mom" and can spell her own name.
Learn more about Gracie in a follow-up story in Children's News.