Twice Born: Stories from the Special Delivery Unit Interview

Lesly Leiva was 12 weeks pregnant when she got devastating news: Her baby had a large tumor growing out of her mouth.

"The doctors basically declared their dead," Leiva, now 23, and studying to be a nurse, tells PEOPLE. "They said she was not going to be able to survive or even be born."

Leiva, who was in college in California at the time, came back home to Lakehurst, New Jersey, after the semester was over and saw specialists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where she had a totally different experience, she says.

"When I first got to CHOP I did not have hope," she says. "After the first day of being there, that's what I got - hope."

Leiva's medical journey is one of three stories from CHOP's Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment chronicled in a new three-part mini -series on the PBS show Twice Born: Stories from the Special Delivery Unit , premiering Tuesday, at 8 pm

More news: Pink Stuff Blog

In October 2013, when Leiva was just 35½ weeks pregnant, Dr. Holly Hedrick performed an exit delivery on Leiva, removing as much of the tumor as she could while the baby was still attached to her mother.

"The baby had this huge mass that was coming out of her mouth and the airway was blocked," Hedrick tells PEOPLE. Subsequent surgeries removed the rest of the mass and helped her rebuild her face.

Today, Lilly Flores is a typical 17-month-old child, something Leiva never thought she'd see.

"She's doing great," she says. "She has progressed a lot. She is eating through her mouth. She is breathing on her own. She's drinking also by mouth. She's also at a good height. She's caught up. It's definitely a miracle. "

Lilly FloresCourtesy: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

  • Adam Floyd