Click here for a photo of the foot. (external - login to view) Warning: graphic content.

Colorado Doctor Finds Foot In Newborn's Brain - Staying Healthy News Story - KMGH Denver (external - login to view)


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A Colorado Springs family is part of one of the strangest cases in medical history.

Dr. Paul Grabb, a pediatric brain surgeon, said he discovered a small foot growing inside the brain of 3-day-old Sam Esquibel.

The appendage threatened the newborn's life.

When Grabb performed the life-saving surgery at Memorial Hospital for Children in Colorado Springs (external - login to view), he was in for another surprise: he also found what appeared to be parts of an intestine in the folds of the infant's tiny brain, in addition to another developing foot, hand and thigh.

"I've never seen anything like it before," Grabb told the Colorado Springs Gazette (external - login to view). "It looked like the breach delivery of a baby coming out of the brain."

Sam Esquibel was delivered on Oct. 1, within hours of an ultrasound that showed what appeared to be a tumor developing in the brain of the fetus.

Three days later, Grabb performed the surgery to remove it.

Grabb was unavailable Wednesday for further interviews. He is the only pediatric brain surgeon in southern Colorado.

Erin Emery, a spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital, confirmed details of the amazing surgery that took place at the hospital on Oct. 3.

The reason for the strange growth is not known. It may be a teratoma (external - login to view) -- a congenital brain tumor composed of foreign tissue such as muscle, hair or teeth. Those types of tumors do not usually grow as complex as a foot.

It could also be a case of fetus in fetu (external - login to view), which is a developmental abnormality in which a fetal twin begins to form within the other.

Grabb told the paper he sees a teratoma once every few years but it doesn't compare to Sam's.

"You show those pictures to the most experienced pediatric neurosurgeons in the world, and they've never seen anything like it," Grabb told the Gazette.

Mom Says Baby A Miracle

Sam's mom, Tiffnie, told TheDenverChannel on Wednesday that her son is doing well but that she didn't want to appear on camera because she doesn't want to exploit her child and make him appear like a freak in the eyes of the world.

"This is our baby," Tiffnie explained, in tears.

She said when she first talked to the Gazette, she thought the story would only appear in the small-town paper. But it has circled the globe and she is getting calls from national and international media outlets.

"I am so overwhelmed right now ... We've been bombarded with calls," Tiffnie said.

DenverChannel.com Reporter Jane Slater held the baby boy with the baby blue eyes and round face and said he is "the cutest baby I've ever seen." Sam's at a healthy weight, with pudgy arms and legs, which explains why family members call him the "Michelin Man," Slater said.

He was alert and happy, with a barely visible inch-long scar which streched from his hairline to the top of his cheek.

Sam is still recovering from the surgery and shows weakness on one side of his body and some trouble with higher-level eye functions. He is already undergoing rehabilitation.

Tiffnie had said that her pregnancy was easy and there were no signs of complications until the ultrasound on Oct. 1. The couple had given up on the idea of having any children after years of trying and then Sam was conceived. Tiffnie said she doesn't mind driving to the hospital every week or month for Sam's MRI and blood checks, considering that he is healthy and happy.

"It's a miracle," she said.

In the meantime, Grabb wonders about the possibilities for medical science.

"How does the body form complete extremities? Who is to say we can't grow a heart, leg or foot?" Grabb asked the Denver Post (external - login to view) earlier. "This could show a window of what's possible."

I don't know if you seen the picture yet, but that's pretty screw up......