‘Tumour was bigger than my baby,’ says Sheffield mum

Gemma Fletcher & Her Daughter Ava,
Gemma Fletcher & Her Daughter Ava,
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A PREGNANT mum and her unborn daughter had their lives saved by surgeons – after a tumour bigger than the baby was discovered.

Eight months pregnant Gemma Fletcher was rushed for an emergency Caesarean when doctors found a giant tumour on one of her kidneys, weighing a massive 7.5lb.

When baby Ava Lily was born she weighed more than a pound less, at 6.4lb.

Medics said the rare benign tumour had probably been on Gemma’s kidney all her life, but pregnancy made it swell.

Even after Ava’s birth the tumour kept getting bigger.

“I still looked pregnant,” said Gemma, from Chapeltown, Sheffield. “I would get comments about my belly and get asked when I was due.

“I was in Meadowhall and a lady said: ‘Haven’t you got a lovely bump!’ I had to tell her I wasn’t pregnant.”

While boyfriend Michael Kay, 30, looked after newborn Ava, Gemma was transferred to the Northern General where doctors tried to shrink the tumour. “That didn’t work,” said Gemma. “They wanted to save my kidney, but the tumour was getting bigger.”

Nine weeks after Ava’s birth, consultant urological surgeon David Smith removed the tumour, along with Gemma’s kidney.

Problems had started 32 weeks into Gemma’s pregnancy, when she developed itchy skin and anaemia.

Led by consultant gynaecologist Remon Keriakos, a team of experts – worried the mass would rupture if Gemma had a natural birth – delivered Ava by C-section at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

“It was terrifying,” said Gemma, who works for Yorkshire Bank. “Mr Keriakos was brilliant though. I was so relieved when Ava was born happy and healthy.”

But, though little Ava was safe, Gemma was still in danger. Mr Keriakos said: “As we had anticipated, Gemma had bleeding in the tumour following the delivery, and the size of the tumour increased significantly as a result.”

Gemma, who has recently moved to Wombwell, near Barnsley, has now recovered from the operations and her daughter is thriving.

“Ava is brilliant – really happy and healthy,” she said. “I have regular check-ups and I’m okay.”

She added: “All the care I received was excellent. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for saving my life and my baby girl.”