Dr Oluyinka Olutoye made Nigeria proud

Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye is a Nigerian pediatric surgeon.

He received his medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, in 1988 and his PhD in anatomy from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, in 1996.

He completed his residency in general surgery at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals, Virginia Commonwealth University, and his fellowship in pediatric surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
Dr. Olutoye and his surgeon partner Dr. Darrell Cass carried out an operation on a baby at 23 weeks.

The baby was removed from her mother’s womb when they discovered she was suffering from a tumour known as sacrococcygeal teratoma.

Sacrococcygeal teratoma is a tumor that develops before birth and grows from a baby’s coccyx, the tailbone.

Margaret Boemer first sensed something was wrong when her ultrasound technician stayed unusually quiet during a routine 16-week prenatal checkup.

It had already been an arduous road to get to that point. Months earlier, Boemer had suffered a miscarriage. When she conceived again, she and her husband were delighted to discover it was with twins — but they lost one of the babies about six weeks into the pregnancy.

Soon, doctors would approach Boemer with more grim news: The child she was carrying had sacrococcygeal teratoma, a rare tumor that appeared at the base of baby’s tailbone.

It is estimated these types of tumors occur in about one of 40,000 pregnancies. If left unchecked, the tumor could continue taking her baby’s blood supply and eventually cause heart failure.

Boemer and her husband were crushed. Only two weeks ago, they had learned the baby would be a girl, and were excited about the possibility of naming her Lynlee, after both of her grandmothers.

“Some of these tumors can be very well-tolerated, so the fetus has it and can get born with it and we can take it out after the baby’s born,” said Dr. Cass. “But about half of the time, they cause problems for the fetus and it’s usually causing problems because of a blood flow problem.”

With a large tumor stealing the blood supply, Boemer’s fetus was becoming more ill each day, doctors explained to the expectant mother. Something had to be done. 

Although other doctors had advised her to terminate the pregnancy, Dr Olutoye and his team told her about another possibility: fetal surgery. This option, though, would not be an easy road. Even worse, her baby’s chances of survival would be grim.

“LynLee didn’t have much of a chance,” Boemer said. “At 23 weeks, the tumor was shutting her heart down and causing her to go into cardiac failure, so it was a choice of allowing the tumor to take over her body or giving her a chance at life.

“It was an easy decision for us: We wanted to give her life.”

The operation was successfully carried out and the baby was returned back. Amazingly, the baby healed and continued to grow until she was born again at 36 weeks. This is a remarkable feat in modern medicine.

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Monday congratulated Dr Oluyinka Olutoye on his notable act.

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