Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Colorado Doctor Finds Foot In Newborn's Brain

Colorado Doctor Finds Foot In Newborn's Brain
Infant Recovering After Surgery

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A Colorado Springs family is part of one of the strangest cases in medical history.

Dr. Paul Grabb, a pediatric brain surgeon, said he discovered a small foot growing the brain of 3-day-old Sam Esquibel.

The appendage threatened the newborn's life.

When Dr. Grabb performed the life-saving surgery at Memorial Hospital for Children in Colorado Springs, he was in for another surprise: he also found what appeared to be parts of an intestine in the folds of the infant's tiny brain, in addition to another developing foot, hand and thigh.

"I've never seen anything like it before," Dr. Grabb told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "It looked like the breach delivery of a baby coming out of the brain."

Sam Esquibel was delivered on Oct. 1, within hours of an ultrasound that showed what appeared to be a tumor developing in the brain of the fetus.

Three days later, Dr. Grabb performed the surgery to remove it.

Dr. Grabb was unavailable Wednesday for further interviews. He is the only pediatric brain surgeon in southern Colorado.

Erin Emery, a spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital, confirmed details of the amazing surgery that took place at the hospital on Oct. 3.

The reason for the strange growth is not known. It may be a teratoma -- a congenital brain tumor composed of foreign tissue such as muscle, hair or teeth. Those types of tumors do not usually grow as complex as a foot.

It could also be a case of fetus in fetu, which is a developmental abnormality in which a fetal twin begins to form within the other.

"You show those pictures to the most experienced pediatric neurosurgeons in the world, and they've never seen anything like it," Grabb told the Gazette.

Sam's mom, Tiffnie, told TheDenverChannel on Wednesday that her son is doing well. She directed further questions to Memorial Hospital.

Emery said the family doesn't want their son's story to become a media circus and are no longer giving interviews.

Sam is still recovering from the surgery and shows weakness on one side and some trouble with higher-level eye functions. He is already undergoing rehabilitation.

In the meantime, Dr. Grabb wonders about the possibilities for medical science.

"How does the body form complete extremities? Who is to say we can't grow a heart, leg or foot?" Grabb asked the Denver Post earlier. "This could show a window of what's possible."

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