Meet the Miracle Mum

Dr Nicklin – Gynaecologic Oncologist

Below is a feature from a Wesley newsletter featuring Dr Nicklin…

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Team’s massive effort to remove rare tumour

Wesley clinical teams undertake life-saving operations as a matter of routine, but one procedure stands out for its remarkable outcome. Kylie Newcomen is known as our “miracle patient” after a surgical team removed an extremely large tumour that had spread from her uterus into her heart. The mother of 10-year-old twins had no idea she was living with the rare growth until she suffered what seemed like a severe asthma attack and lost consciousness for about 30 seconds at the family farm between Moree and Goondiwindi.

“I had experienced vague chest pains but I had no idea that there was anything seriously wrong with me,” she said.

Her husband, Bill, drove her to Goondiwindi District Hospital but after another serious episode of irregular heartbeats and blackout she was transferred to Toowoomba Base Hospital where a computed tomography (CT) scan detected a mass in her right atrium and right ventricle.

“I had experienced vague chest pains but I had no idea that there was anything seriously wrong with me.”

Amid growing concerns, Kylie was rushed to the Wesley where echocardiograms and a transesophageal echocardiogram, conducted under the direction of Wesley cardiologist Dr Andrew Rainbird, showed the mass coming up from the inferior vena cava (the IVC vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart). Further studies to determine the extent of the growth included a coronary angiogram, a venogram, a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan. The results showed the potentially life-threatening tumour coming out of the right ovarian vein, up the IVC into the heart. By then, a team of specialists had assembled, made up of cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Graeme Hart, vascular surgeon Dr Nicolas Boyne and gynaecological-oncologist Dr Nicklin.

Kylie was admitted on a Friday and early the following week the specialist team began the four hour operation.

“We weren’t certain what we were going to nd. We planned for the worst and thankfully it didn’t come to that. We were able to remove the entire tumour, “ Dr Hart said.

The benign tumour, known as an Intravenous Leiomyomatosis, is a rare condition seen in women. The tumour can spread throughout the venous system, leaving the uterus and even causing death, when growing into the heart from the IVC. After two days in the intensive care unit (ICU) Kylie was transferred to the cardiac ward where she made a swift recovery.

“I am incredibly grateful to the specialists involved, the Wesley’s ICU, coronary care unit and the nursing staff.” Kylie said.

Bill added his heartfelt thanks and appreciation to everyone involved in his wife’s journey back to health.

“It was a terrifying experience, thinking I could lose her. The twins were frantic but are happy that mum came home,” he said. “The care and support we received was exceptional during this dif cult experience. The healthcare delivery at the Wesley is world class.

“The staff were so amazing – so many made the extra effort to lift our spirits and encourage us in often emotionally overwhelming circumstances.”

The Wesley’s “miracle patient” is now back at work at the local school and leading a full life, keeping up with the twins’ many activities.

“It’s hard to believe what happened to me, ” Kylie said. “I’ll always have a strong connection to the Wesley and the team that saved my life and cared for me.”