When words on the pages of a book started to blur, Maria Emilse Munoz Peña, who was six months pregnant at the time, thought it was just a side effect of her pregnancy. She had no idea that she was actually going blind.
The doctors initially couldn't find anything wrong with her eyesight, so they did an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. The test results were much worse than Peña expected.
The doctor discovered a large tumor
Peña had an egg-sized benign meningioma, a tumor attached to the membranes in the brain. This type of tumor typically doesn't require immediate treatment, but neurosurgeon Michael Ivan said Peña's pregnancy hormones caused it to grow quickly.
The tumor was completely wrapped around her optic nerves, damaging her vision.
"As each hour went by, her vision was getting worse," Dr. Ivan said. "All she could see was light and dark."
If Peña wanted to keep her sight, she couldn't wait three more months until she delievered the baby. She would have to take the risk and undergo surgery while pregnant.
Peña and her baby were monitored by a team of anesthesiologists and obstetricians during the entire 12-hour surgery.
Their help was much needed, as the surgeons experienced several setbacks during the operation. The team had to stop operating on her a couple times when the baby was feeling distressed.
Their biggest complication arose later in the surgery when Peña started having contractions. They stopped surgery and gave her medication in hopes that it would stop her contractions. Amazingly, it worked and they were able to avoid an emergency C-section.
Surgery continued after the baby's health was stabilized. The tumor was successfully removed, as well as a second tumor that was discovered during the operation.