Abbey's Story

Nicole Monzietti

“I felt the need to be at NewYork-Presbyterian. Abbey’s arrival was coming so close that I thought she needed to be in the best hospital. I’m so thankful I went there.”

Abbey’s Experience

Thirty-five weeks into her pregnancy, Nicole Monzietti decided to switch from her local doctor in Long Island – although closer to her home – to the team at NewYork-Presbyterian. She was very familiar with the Hospital; all of her family members had been born here and continue to come here for care. “While none of the sonograms indicated anything, I think I just had a mother’s instinct that something was wrong. My baby’s due date was so close, and I had a strong feeling I had to be at NYP because they’re the number one hospital.”

Three weeks later, Abbey Monzietti was born on July 27, 2014, with an extremely rare and large, but benign, tumor called sacrococcygeal teratoma. The tumor was located in her abdomen and extended around to her tailbone. “When she was born, the doctors noticed a bump on her lower back near her coccyx bone,” recalls Nicole. “They took her for a sonogram and MRI the next day.”

Nitsana Spigland, MD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery and Chief of Pediatric Trauma at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, told Nicole that her newborn needed surgery right away. At just three days old, Abbey underwent a nearly eight-hour procedure to not only remove the one-pound tumor, but to remove it in one piece to avoid reoccurrence.

“The stakes are very high with this surgery,” says Dr. Spigland. “Hemorrhage or bleeding is the most serious complication. And in a little baby like this, if you develop hemorrhage, it could be life threatening. You could lose the baby on the operating table.”

“The tumor was much larger than what the MRI had indicated,” says Nicole. “It required extensive surgery, from hip to hip and then from the back so they could remove the coccyx bone.”

After spending a month recovering in the NICU, Abbey was able to go home, where she continued to make a remarkable recovery, with no major complications from the surgery. Now at 17 months, she is a typical healthy and happy baby. “She started crawling at six months old and started walking at 10 months,” says Nicole. “She’s doing great.”

Every three months during the first year of her life, Abbey had an MRI and blood work with pediatric oncologist Alexander Aledo, MD, to monitor her progress and to make sure no cells that could turn into cancer were left behind. Currently, she only needs an MRI every six months, and when she turns 2, she will only need to have the MRI once a year. As she gets older with no signs of reoccurrence, the possibility of a relapse drops significantly.

“She had the best care,” says Nicole. “The staff were all amazing, and I just love Dr. Spigland. I won’t go anywhere else. I trust everything they say.”