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Woman survives brain surgery at Cleveland Clinic while pregnant with twins

While many moms have reasons to be grateful on Mother's Day, Monica Robins has the story of a woman who just wanted to live long enough to meet her twins.

CLEVELAND — Jeanette Davila and Daniel Nieves got engaged over Christmas. They were already expecting twins on a perfect day.

“My due date was actually scheduled for Valentine's Day on February 14th,” Jeanette said.  

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But after her second trimester, Jeanette started experiencing wicked headaches. Her doctor suggested acetaminophen, but nothing worked.

“I noticed that the pain was getting worse. It was almost to the point where it was like dropping hard, feeling, almost felt like I was hit in the head. It would wake me up out of my sleep,” Jeanette said.  

Then while driving, something horrifying happened.

“I went to change over to the next lane, and I noticed that my vision was blurry. I couldn't see,” she said.

Jeanette went to Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital where an MRI discovered a large pituitary tumor pushing on her optic nerve. 

"I thought I was gonna die. I thought I was gonna be permanently blind because of, you know, how severe it was, the pain," Jeanette said.

About 94,000 Americans are diagnosed with brain tumors every year. At just 30 years old and pregnant, Jeanette was blindsided by the diagnosis.  

The next day, Jan. 4, she went into surgery and the Cleveland Clinic team accessed the tumor through her nose.

"My partner did the first approach by inserting a small camera, called an endoscope through the nostrils, creating a corridor through the nostrils to get to the base of the brain without making any open incisions in the skull. Most people would think that brain surgery involves making an opening in the skull, but that's not always the case. After that, the neurosurgery team came in, so I was there with my assistant and worked on removing the tumor. And the third part of the surgery is really reconstructing the opening that we made.” said Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon Pablo Recinos, MD.

The multidisciplinary team consisted of specialists from neurological surgery, head and neck, and OB-GYN to closely monitor the babies.

The procedure was successful. Jeanette regained her vision quickly and was discharged two days later. 

A week later, Juliet and Noah were delivered via C-section at 36 weeks. Everyone is doing OK.  

“This Mother's Day means being grateful for being able to see my precious baby's faces because that was one of the biggest things is that I lost my vision. But I'm super grateful, I'm blessed to be here and be able to spend this Mother's Day with my family means a lot to me,” Jeanette said.

Jeanette hopes others learn from her story and act if they think something could be wrong or seems off. She also suggested getting a second opinion, which likely saved her life. Jeanette credits faith, family, and hope for getting her through this ordeal. She’ll now be monitored for the rest of her life to make sure the tumor doesn’t come back.


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