Sunday, December 21, 2008

Extreme Caution Urged by Surgeon When Putting Foot in Mouth

Published: December 18, 2008
Filed at 11:48 a.m. ET

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- A pediatric neurosurgeon says a tumor he removed from the brain of a Colorado Springs infant contained a tiny foot and other partially formed body parts.

Dr. Paul Grabb said he operated on Sam Esquibel at Memorial Hospital for Children after an MRI showed a tumor on the newborn's brain. Sam was 3 days old and otherwise healthy.

Grabb said that while removing the growth, he discovered it contained a nearly perfect foot and the formation of another foot, a hand and a thigh.

''It looked like the breech delivery of a baby, coming out of the brain,'' Grabb said. ''To find a perfectly formed structure (like this) is extremely unique, unusual, borderline unheard of.''

Grabb isn't sure what caused the growth but says it may have been a type of congenital brain tumor. However, such tumors usually are less complex than a foot or hand, he said.

The growth may also have been a case of ''fetus in fetu'' -- in which a fetal twin begins to form within another -- but such cases very rarely occur in the brain, Grabb said.

Sam's parents, Tiffnie and Manuel Esquibel, said their son is at home now but faces monthly blood tests to check for signs of cancer or regrowth, along with physical therapy to improve the use of his neck. But they say he has mostly recovered from the Oct. 3 surgery.

''You'd never know if he didn't have a scar there,'' Tiffnie Esquibel said.

Hospital staff wondered if there would be an additional charge for the delivery of the fetus, enfant, tumor or whatever the thing is ultimately determined to be. Assistant insurance claims clerk, Wanda Wherewithal, speaking on condition of not being taken seriously, said her experience with claims of this sort was that the insurance company would make a great public show of paying all expenses, but then nickle and dime the parents with bogus deductions for "thinking about the matter," or for "addition and subtraction" charges until the Esquibels were forced into bankruptcy and their son declared a ward of the state and confined for life in a federal facility adjacent to the planned national nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. When asked to comment, the tumor's court appointed attorney said, "What? What hearing? I was trout fishing in Colorado. But from what you'ved told me it sounds like a pretty good deal for the kid."

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