London party

Baby born with huge tumor needs treatment in Finchley, North London

Mary Tanasa (Image: Reach Plc / Supplied)

The 3kg growth, known as a sacrococcygeal teratoma, developed when Maria Tanasa was still in the womb and was removed during a 12-hour operation when the baby was only two days. The operation was successful, but the toddler suffered heart failure in the following days at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Although she has defied death and battled a number of disabilities over the next five years – including hearing loss and coordination issues – mum Ionela says her daughter faces her daily battles with smile.

Ionela, who lives in Finchley, north London, told “My husband and I try to provide the best for our daughter and make her happy. She is more or less aware of her issues now, but she still tries to smile.

“His teachers are so amazed at how a little kid can wear a mask like this and still be happy with everything that’s going on.”

But Ionela, 38, and her husband Florin, 40, are ‘very worried’ for Maria, who couldn’t stand unaided until she was 18 months old and only started walking without help only around the age of three and a half.

Mary Tanasa

Maria was born at 32 weeks and needed major surgery (Picture: supplied)

It was the biggest trauma of my life and that of my husband. I can’t express it in words

Ionela Tanasa

She was diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD) and ATAXIA (poor muscle control and disorder that affects coordination, balance and speech) as a baby.

ANSD causes hearing loss because sounds often do not reach the brain.

This caused Maria to have trouble understanding sounds and language, and to have trouble recognizing one sound from another. This affected her socially and her upbringing.

Ionela has found a clinic in Spain where doctors can insert an implant into Maria’s ear to help sounds reach her brain and improve her quality of life.

But the procedure, another operation, costs £40,000 in total and the family are currently doing online crowdfunding.

Mary Tanasa

Maria, pictured with dad Florin and mum Ionela, remains happy despite her problems (Image: Reach Plc)

Ionela, who has no other children, said: “It’s going to be so important because it’s going to be life changing for Maria.

“It will make a huge difference because I want her to be happy, and I don’t want to wait too late. Her life is already hurting.

“I’m worried about my child, any parent would be. She’s had a terrible time over the past few years.

“We as parents strive to give her the best. We just want the best for her.”

Maria was born by Caesarean section at 32 weeks at University College London Hospital (UCLH) on December 8, 2016, weighing just 4.022 kg.

She was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital and the following day underwent grueling 12-hour surgery to remove the growth.

Photographs of the tumor seen by were deemed too graphic to publish.

Mary Tanasa

Maria, now five, faces mobility and communication challenges (Image: Reach Plc)

“We were told the operation was risky and she might not survive,” said Ionela, who is a reflexologist.

“It was a miracle that she survived. It was a very difficult time, though, because I was at UCLH and she was at Ormond Street.

“It was the biggest trauma of my life and my husband’s life. I can’t express it in words. You can’t forget it either because it was terrible.

“We will be traumatized for life.”

Maria has struggled with internal and external issues all her life. She needs reconstructive surgery on her buttocks to replace the skin lost when the tumor was removed.

She has neuropathy in the bladder, also caused by the tumor.

Doctors say the tumor also caused problems with Maria’s vocal cords and throat.

Maria Tanasa and her family

Florin and Ionela, from London, are desperate for their daughter to receive treatment abroad (Image: Reach Plc)

Ionela has also found treatment for these other issues, including a clinic in Romania that can relieve Maria’s ATAXIA. These procedures, like the operation to help Maria hear better, are not on the NHS.

The total cost of these is £80,000.

But Ionela added: “Maria is a cheeky girl. She’s funny, beautiful and gorgeous and she’s our only child.

“If you see her, you will never forget her smile. Behind her smile, she hides this sad story as she was born with these rare medical conditions.

“Maria learned to wear a mask all the time because she feels different from other kids and she wants to be like them pretending she doesn’t have problems.”

To donate to the appeal, visit