• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Infant survives rare, life-threatening brain tumor

April 16, 2017

Rayna Speary with her parentsTo the delight of everyone who knows 3-year-old Rayna Speary, her head is perfectly round and smooth and average size.

Given that the youngster was diagnosed and treated for an extremely rare brain tumor that caused her head to balloon in size as a 4-month-old, and that she underwent a dramatic surgery at Mayo Clinic to remove a substantial growth that occupied nearly half of her brain space, a perfect aesthetic of her head was not guaranteed. In fact, much about Rayna's development — including her very survival — wasn't assured.

In September 2014, doctors in the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus informed Rayna's parents, Wendy and Bob Speary of Oronoco, Minnesota, that their infant had developed a rare brain tumor called a desmoplastic infantile ganglioglioma, or DIG. Had it not been for the instincts of the resident pediatrician conducting Rayna's four-month well-baby exam and understanding of the condition by Rayna's pediatric neurosurgeon David  Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., Rayna's outcome could have been vastly different.

"She's kind of the benchmark case, as far as I'm aware," Wendy says. "There's not been a case that has had the results she has had." Read the rest of Rayna's story.

This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.