NICU Baby Home for Thanksgiving After Removal of In-Utero Heart Tumor

Team of 11 Orlando Health Physicians Performs Consecutive Surgeries on Mother and Baby with Rare, Life-Threatening Heart Tumor

Grateful Parents Bring Baby Home After 4 Months, Just in Time for Thanksgiving

Orlando, FL (November 23, 2022) – Orlando Health clinicians from seven different specialties came together to perform back-to-back surgeries on a mother and her baby who developed a life-threatening tumor in utero. Randyiah Paul came to Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies after learning that the teratoma (a type of germ cell tumor) on her unborn daughter’s heart had grown so rapidly, she wouldn’t survive unless surgeons intervened. Doctors say this is a rare type of tumor, and it is exceptionally rare for it to require fetal intervention.

Across the street at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, two operating rooms were prepared for the highly complex procedures that would need to occur in rapid succession. First, the maternal-fetal medicine team performed an in-utero procedure (a pericardiocentesis) to remove the fluid around the baby’s heart, ultimately helping the baby transition safely from life inside the womb to the postnatal surgery.

"Randyiah was in just the right place to have this procedure, as it’s really quite intricate with no room for error,” said Cole Greves, MD, maternal-fetal medicine physician and director of complex fetal care at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer. "After injecting the fetus with an anesthetic, we then thread a needle, under direct ultrasound guidance, through mom's abdominal wall, into the uterus and then advance it through the fetal chest wall and into the sac surrounding the heart to remove the fluid and allow expansion of the fetal lungs – all while the heart is beating.”

Following the pericardiocentesis procedure, doctors performed a C-section on Randyiah, and Zuri Paul was born at 29 weeks' gestation, weighing just 3 lbs. 8 oz. Upon delivery, she was stabilized by the awaiting neonatology team and immediately rushed to the adjacent operating room where another team of specialists removed the tumor.

“This case represents the depth of expertise between both hospitals, and the ability to seamlessly bring them together and achieve a great outcome,” said Kevin Beers, DO, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer. “There were at least seven specialties represented in the planning of this, and a team of 11 physicians and surgeons between two operating rooms on the day of surgery. Each specialty played a critical role in Zuri’s care and survival.”

Zuri spent the next 16 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer, recovering from surgery and gaining the strength she would need to go home. Her medical team is thrilled with the outcome of the surgery, as the tumor was removed in its entirety and is not expected to return.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Zuri was released from the hospital (now grown to over 10lbs.) to be united with her mother, father and older sister. Randiyah says, “This has been a hard journey, but we’ve been taking it day by day. We didn’t want to rush bringing Zuri home; we knew she would be ready in her own time.”

Zuri now only requires surveillance moving forward, and the care team anticipates that she will be able to live a happy and normal life.

About Orlando Health

Orlando Health, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with $8.1 billion of assets under management that serves the southeastern United States.

Founded more than 100 years ago, the healthcare system is recognized around the world for Central Florida’s only pediatric and adult Level I Trauma program as well as the only state-accredited Level II Adult Trauma Center in Pinellas County. It is the home of the nation’s largest neonatal intensive care unit under one roof, the only system in the southeast to offer open fetal surgery to repair the most severe forms of spina bifida, the site of an Olympic athlete training facility and operator of one of the largest and highest performing clinically integrated networks in the region. Orlando Health has pioneered life-changing medical research and its Graduate Medical Education program hosts more than 350 residents and fellows.

The 3,238-bed system includes 23 hospitals and emergency departments – 18 of which are currently operational with five coming soon. The system also includes nine specialty institutes, more than 100 adult and pediatric primary care practices, skilled nursing facilities, an in-patient behavioral health facility under the management of Acadia Healthcare, and more than 60 outpatient facilities that include imaging and laboratory services, wound care centers, home healthcare services in partnership with LHC Group, and urgent care centers in partnership with FastMed Urgent Care. More than 4,000 physicians, representing more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties have privileges across the Orlando Health system, which employs more than 25,000 team members and more than 1,200 physicians.

In FY22, Orlando Health served nearly 142,000 inpatients and 3.9 million outpatients. The healthcare system provided more than $782 million in total value to the communities it serves in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more in FY 21, the most recent period for which this information is available. Additional information can be found at, or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @orlandohealth.

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