When Kaileb McIntyre was born nearly 14 weeks before his due date in April, 2012, his doctors expected that he would face many of the problems typical for premature babies. “He weighed only 2 lbs. 2 oz. and he had a lot of complications that came along with him being so small, so he had a tough time starting from when he was born,” said his mother, Khalena McIntyre.
A routine scan to monitor Kaileb’s development revealed a suspicious area in his brain. Further testing indicated that he had a rapidly-growing immature teratoma, or cancerous tumor. “When they saw how much it had increased within just 24 hours, they were definitely alarmed and they let me know they would be sending Kaileb to Children’s Hospital,” McIntyre said.
Just a few days after he was transferred to Children’s, surgeons were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor. The remainder was treated with chemotherapy.
“Whenever we care for a child with a brain tumor, it takes an elaborate multi-disciplinary team to provide the best care possible,” said Dr. Alyssa Reddy, Kaileb’s pediatric neuro-oncologist. “We are fortunate to have all the resources here to do this routinely, but Kaileb’s case took us to a whole new level. Here was this tiny baby who wasn’t even supposed to be born yet and the tumor was quickly growing. Ideally, we would wait until the child was older but something clearly had to be done. Neurosurgeon Dr. Jim Johnston performed an amazing tumor resection and then our oncologists carefully provided over a year of intensive chemotherapy. It was incredibly rewarding to see Kalieb do so well, especially knowing we were able to combine our collective expertise in an unchartered situation.”
Although Kaileb still experiences some medical problems related to his premature birth and the treatment for his tumor, his mom said he is “blossoming.”
“In the beginning I really struggled, because I was concerned it was something that I had caused to happen, but as time went on I realized that God had a reason,” his mother said. “He allowed me to be sick so Kaileb would be born early and we could learn he had a rare tumor growing in his brain. If we had not caught it when we did, he might not be with us now because of how rapidly it was growing.
“He is a fighter,” she said. “He has been through so many things, but he is always smiling and happy. He is a blessing and a miracle and I never take that for granted.”