A baby girl in Florida is being hailed as a ‘miracle’ for surviving a rare and aggressive brain tumor.
Katie Rose Hayes was born in September 2018 about four weeks before her due date after her mother experienced pre-eclampsia – pregnancy-related high blood pressure – during the end of her pregnancy, requiring a C-section.
All seemed well until Katie’s grandmother felt something was wrong with the newborn, reported WKMG.
Her parents, Mary and Tom, took her to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando, where she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, gliobastoma multiforma, which was taking up most of her brain.
Katie wasn’t supposed to survive through the night – but she did and now, eight months later, her tumor is continuing to shrink.
Katie Rose Hayes, 9 months (left and right), from Florida, was born in September 2018, four weeks before her due date after her mother developed pre-eclampsia. At four weeks old, in October 2018, she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer
The tumor was taking up 60% of her brain and her parents were told she may not survive through the night. Pictured: #1 is her tumor when it was found in October 2018, #2 is the next day after her brain surgery, #3 is after two rounds of chemotherapy in December 2018 and #4 is February 2019
Gliobastoma is a rare, aggressive type of brain tumor that is found in the brain or on the spinal cord.
It’s the same type of tumor that led to the deaths of Senator John McCain and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden.
The tumors form from star-shaped cells in the brain known as astrocytes and make their own blood supply, allowing them to grow quickly.
Symptoms include constant painful headaches, vomiting, seizures, double vision and trouble speaking.
Approximately 14,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
Treatment options to slow and control tumor growth include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation – but the cancer usually recurs.
The tumors are grade IV, the most deadly form, and the five-year survival rate is only five percent.
In Katie’s case, the tumor was the size of a tennis ball and taking up 60 percent of her brain, reported WKMG.
Katie (left and right) survived and underwent surgery the next morning, where doctors removed more than 70 percent of her tumor. She immediately began chemotherapy, which she did for 10 rounds
In May 2019, Katie completed her final round of chemotherapy and rang the ‘cancer-free’ bell at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Pictured: Katie with her parents, Mary and Tom, on her final day of chemotherapy
A team of pediatric intensive care specialists said if she survived the night, surgery would be scheduled for the next day.
‘I said: “Is my baby going to live?”‘ Mary recalled asking one of the doctors. ‘And he says: “I don’t know she’s got a lot of fluid on her brain”.’
Doctors were able to stabilize her and, on October 26, she underwent surgery, during which more than 70 percent of the tumor was removed.
Dr Samer Elbabaa, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Arnold Palmer Hospital who removed the tumor, told WKMG that he believes the tumor is congenital.
This means that the tumor formed while Mary was pregnant with Katie, although it’s unclear when.
‘Had she gone to full term, to 40 [weeks], she probably would’ve been a stillborn, so this in itself is a miracle,’ Mary told the station.
Doctors believe the tumor is congenital, meaning it formed while Mary was pregnant with Katie. Pictured: Katie on her final day of chemotherapy
Katie is now taking a drug for patients that test positive for certain genes that help cancerous tumors grow. Pictured: Katie with her mother, Mary, on her final day of chemotherapy
Since then, Katie has undergone 10 rounds of chemotherapy. By late December 2018, the tumor had shrunk to half its size.
According to a Facebook page called Kisses for Katie, on which her parents provide updates, she is hitting all her developmental milestones.
On May 31, she rang the ‘cancer-free’ bell to signify completing her last round of chemotherapy.
Currently, Katie is on a new drug called Vitrakvi, which is for patients that test positive for certain genes that help cancerous tumors grow, according to the American Cancer Society.
A Facebook post states that her next MRI to see if her tumor has continued to shrink is August 28.