Baby Whose Mother Saved Her From Abortion Gets Life-Saving Heart Surgery

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 20, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Baby Whose Mother Saved Her From Abortion Gets Life-Saving Heart Surgery Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 20
, 2008

Phoenix, AZ ( — Twenty-three year old Avery Milne received terrible news from doctors about her unborn child during her pregnancy. Mommy-to-be found out her unborn child Bela had little chance of survival as she was afflicted with a rare combination of Turner syndrome and hypoplastic left-heart syndrome.

Turner syndrome occurs in about 1 out of every 2500 female births and female sexual characteristics are present but generally underdeveloped.

In hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, the left side of the heart — including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve — is underdeveloped. Babies with this syndrome become ashen, have rapid and difficult breathing and have difficulty feeding.

Together the conditions made Bela’s prognosis so poor that physicians suggested Milne consider an abortion because they didn’t know if Bela would live or die.

"It was just a shock to find out because they didn’t know what to tell me," Milne said. "It was just a big guessing game until she was born."

Avery declined and, shortly after Bela’s birth, doctors performed a new procedure that is minimally invasive but allowed them to correct the problems with Bela’s heath without stopping it.

According to the Arizona Republic, mother and daughter are finally able to go home after spending the better part of a month at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Dr. Stephen Pophal, chief of pediatric cardiology at St. Joseph’s and one of the doctors who operated on Bela, told the Republic, "For her to make it through that was defying the odds."

Despite the good news, Bela will require two more surgeries during the first three years of her life and will need significant medical attention as she grows.

Though Bela has a small heart physically, Milne says her baby has a huge heart in terms of her experience and fight for life.

"I admire her already for all she’s gone through in the first two weeks of her life," she told the newspaper.

Milne cited her and her husband’s faith in God as the reason for declining the abortion.