Abigail Klein Leichman
August 2, 2023

When Tamar Levy got a routine ultrasound in the 35th week of her pregnancy last February, she did not imagine that her unborn daughter would soon make history at Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Medical Center, which just released the details of the unusual event.

“The technician identified something abnormal in the abdominal cavity of my fetus, but she did not know exactly what it was. After consulting with my gynecologist, Dr. Marc Zerah, we were quickly sent to the emergency room at Hadassah Ein Kerem,” Levy said.

Dr. Shay Porat, director of the hospital’s obstetrical ultrasound unit, discovered that Levy’s baby had cysts in both her ovaries that were causing ovarian torsion, or twisting. 

He explained that this condition, more commonly seen in teenagers or adults, could cause intense pain and the loss of both ovaries.

“I immediately contacted Dr. Dan Arbel, director of the pediatric oncology surgery unit, and Dr. Noa Ofek Shlomai, director of the premature and neonatal unit,” said Porat. “After consultation, it was quickly decided to deliver Tamar [by emergency C-section] and do emergency surgery on the baby.”

The fact that such surgery had never been done before in a newborn – anywhere in the world – did not stop this team. 

“Bilateral ovarian cyst is extremely rare and is described in the medical literature only a few times, while in fetuses it is not documented at all,” said Porat. 

“It is usually very difficult to identify the ovarian environment in fetuses, but there are signs that help us make the diagnosis more accurate. Thanks to the upgrade of the ultrasound device in the system at Hadassah Ein Kerem just a few weeks before, we could clearly see that there was still blood flow to her ovaries, but the flow was slow. I knew we had to act quickly so as not to lose the ovaries.”

Arbel performed the challenging procedure, with assistance from Shlomai, half an hour after the baby’s birth, inside the incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit. He loosened the blockage and drained the cysts successfully.

“Everything happened so quickly in order to save my daughter’s ovaries,” said Levy. “Within a few minutes of the diagnosis, I went into an emergency caesarean section and immediately after that the baby was operated on and, thank God, everything went well. I thank everyone who took care of me along the way, and for the wonderful and quick work done by the staff at the hospital in order to take care of our daughter.”

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