Brennan Sheerin is a happy, healthy little boy.
The 2-year-old Burholme resident might have been a child with chronic lung infections and bleeding that doctors would have difficulty explaining. His condition might have been a mystery.
Might have been.
Instead, doctors spotted a problem — a small mass on his right lung — very early in his life. In fact, that mass, which was removed in September, was noticed before Brennan was born.
His mother, Lauren, had her first ultrasound test done when she was 26 weeks pregnant with Brennan, her second child, and that’s when the tiny mass was spotted by her doctor.
Imagine being a mother and hearing that.
“It was really grim at first,” she said during a Feb. 27 phone interview.
It was confusing, too, she said. She said she was referred to other doctors and bombarded with information.
“I spent the whole pregnancy worried,” she said.
What she was looking for was hope, she said, and she found it when she was referred to Dr. Shaheen Timmapuri, attending surgeon of the Regional Fetal Evaluation Center at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
“She was so amazing,” Lauren Sheerin said. “She really broke it down for us. … It was the first time I really had hope.”
Parents don’t want to see anything unusual, the doctor said in a Feb. 28 phone interview. Anything abnormal creates anxiety and fear.
They wonder about the quality of a child’s life, if a child will survive, she said.
“She was so reassuring,” Lauren Sheerin said of the doctor.
Timmapuri said she has been involved in Brennan’s care since he was still in his mother’s womb. She said she kept an eye on Brennan’s development. The mass remained small.
At St. Christopher’s, doctors always made sure the baby was OK, Lauren Sheerin said. That didn’t ease just her worries.
“I went to the majority of the appointments with her,” her husband, Bill, said. “I can’t say I ever lost hope … I feel God led us down to St. Christopher’s. … It was a great experience.”
The mass, Timmapuri said, didn’t seem to cause the developing child any bother. Even three months after Brennan was born at Temple Hospital, the mass remained small and was not causing the baby any distress, the doctor said.
“It was very tiny,” she said. “It was not even that obvious it was there.”
It was safe, she thought, not to remove it until the child had grown a bit. He was almost 2 when Timmapuri removed the mass from Brennan’s lung, his mother said.
What would have happened had the mass not been spotted and doctors had not known it even existed?
In the worst case, Timmapuri said, there was a potential for recurring lung infections and some bleeding. There was a very small risk of cancer. And, it’s possible that the cause of the problems would been mysterious to doctors, especially given that the mass was so small.
That all of that never happened is because a pregnant woman had an ultrasound, modern ultrasounds are of excellent quality and obstetricians are good at reading the ultrasounds, Timmapuri said.
The result is 2-year-old Brennan is growing up in his Princeton Avenue home with mom, dad and his brother, Caleb, 10.
Timmapuri said St. Christopher’s Regional Fetal Evaluation Center is about four years old. No children are born there, she said. Children are referred after birth. ••
The Regional Fetal Evaluation Center in St. Christopher’s Hospital is at 3601 A St. For information, call 888-546-6402 or 215-427-5521.