Christina’s Story: Fetal Liver Tumor

After a rare condition affecting her mother's pregnancy caused Christina to develop liver cysts before she was even born, her parents turned to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Prenatally diagnosed with hepatic mesenchymal hamartoma, Christina was one of the Center’s very first patients.

She had liver resection surgery to remove the masses on her liver when she was just a tiny baby. After a long road to recovery, today she's a healthy college student.

Susan walked into The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when she was pregnant with her daughter Christina. Look at her now.


Christina’s story: Fetal liver tumor

Susan, mother: I had a molar pregnancy, which majority of times ends up in miscarriage.

I had cysts throughout my placenta. And late in my pregnancy the hospital did a routine level two ultrasound and they noticed a cyst in Christina’s liver. We were told to see Dr. Adzick over at Children’s Hospital. He was a pioneer of so many things. I don’t know how we got that lucky. It made us feel like we had the best hope out there for Christina. I was watched with level two ultrasounds throughout the rest of the pregnancy, and the cyst would fluctuate up and down for the remainder of the pregnancy.

After her birth, she was having problems, difficulty with breathing. It was the size of a grapefruit was what they told me. It was crushing the organs. They gave us two options. One was either a transplant where they would take a section from either her father or my liver, or to try and do this liver resection. They felt the liver resection was the best thing possible for Christina. And that’s how we proceeded.

The surgery took a lot longer than what they anticipated. Dr. Adzick was amazing. When he came out, he told us that, “It’s a one day at a time with Christina. We removed 7/8 of her liver. But the liver regenerates. And we’re gonna do it one day at a time.”

We took her home six weeks later, and she thrived. She now has a liver, at one point that looked like a chili pepper. She has a mark that goes from left to right, and it is known as her beauty mark. She is our miracle.

Christina, patient: They weren’t given a lot of hope, and then when they come to CHOP, hope lives here. And they were told, “You’re going to be able to have this child. Your child can grow up, graduate high school, go to college.” I go to the reunion every year, and it’s crazy to see how far we’ve come. When you see all of these little kids running around, they’re hope.

Today I’m almost 20 years old, a freshman at college, and I was operated on as a newborn at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. And look at me now.

Related Centers and Programs: The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Celebrates 20 Years, Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment