At 8 months old, Abbey Monzietti looks almost like any other infant as she attempts to take a few unsteady steps and calls out for her "mama." But the girl has made a major recovery after being born with a life-threatening tumor that required surgery three days after she was born.
Abbey's tumor was pressing on vital organs and so large that her mother, Nicole Monzietti, said she could see it as soon as the infant was born.
"[A visible bump] was the size of golf ball or a little bit smaller, they took her to sonogram maybe that day," Monzietti said, though the entire tumor turned out to be larger.
After doctors found the tumor, the infant underwent a battery of tests before doctors determined it needed to be removed immediately.
"Literally my worst nightmare came true. Throughout my whole pregnancy I was so worried, 'Oh, my God, what if something happened?'" the Long Island, New York, woman, told ABC News. "I said, 'I can’t believe this is happening.' I had to start crying."
The tumor was about 650 grams, nearly 1.5 pounds, which is equivalent to a 60-pound tumor in an adult, Dr. Nitsana Spigland of New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center said.
Monzietti said, "It was pressing on all of her vital organs. Most of it was in her abdomen, a little bigger than a grapefruit."
In order to stop the tumor from developing again, doctors had to remove the tumor entirely intact.
"The stakes are very high with this surgery," Dr. Spigland told ABC affiliate WABC-TV in New York. "Hemorrhage or bleeding is the most serious complication. And in a little baby like this, if you develop hemorrhage, it could be life-threatening. Potentially you could lose the baby on the operating table."
Three days after undergoing a Caesarean-section, Monzietti pulled herself into the waiting room as doctors operated on her daughter.
Monzietti waited for seven hours in the waiting room as Spigland performed the delicate operation.
"I came down with all the things attached to me with socks on," Monzietti said. "Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy. ... I had the nurses come down to bring me pain medicine."
After the operation, Monzietti said, she could finally breathe again when the tumor was found to be benign. But Abbey still wasn't out of the woods.
"They kept her sedated," Monzietti said. "I didn’t see any kind of movement and action from her at all for two weeks."
Eventually, Abbey woke up and started her road to recovery. Monzietti said her daughter has managed to avoid any major complications. While the girl still has to get scans to ensure the tumor has not grown back, she now acts almost like any other happy baby.
She's "extremely happy, smiling, she’s almost walking already," Monzietti said. "She’s always happy, she’s climbing right now, like a little monkey."