An unborn baby in Brisbane successfully underwent a spinal surgery in the womb on Sunday – a first for Australia.
Sky News reports both the mother and unborn baby are doing well after the surgery, a joint effort by doctors from Queensland and the United States. The unborn baby is 24 weeks along and was recently diagnosed with spina bifida, according to the report.
Here is more from the report:
Director of Mater’s maternal fetal medicine Glenn Gardener said the surgery went as well as could have been hoped and both mother and baby were OK.
Dr Gardener said while the surgery was not a cure for spina bifida, it did significantly improve the outcome for babies diagnosed with the condition.
Spina bifida is a serious birth defect that prevents a fetus’s spine and spinal cord from developing normally.
It can lead to paralysis and other complications and is normally treated with surgery once a baby is born.
Some parents make the tragic decision to abort their unborn child when they find out their baby has a disability like spina bifida. But the new fetal surgical procedure is bringing hope to many families and their unborn babies.
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The in-utero surgery for spina bifida is relatively new. Two years ago, LifeNews reported the first surgery of its kind in England was performed on an unborn baby girl named Frankie. As a result, in December, 14-month-old Frankie was overcoming her disability and learning to walk, The Express reports.
“It’s a miracle,” said Gina Lavis, the toddler’s mom. “She is showing the first signs of walking and has none of the crippling paralysis that affects many spina bifida babies. This wonderful operation looks to have changed everything for Frankie.”
A Michigan family experienced a similar success after a doctors performed surgery to correct their unborn son’s myelomeningocele spine bifida in 2015. Carter Hilton’s family said he also is doing better than expected, thanks to the surgery he had while he was in the womb.
Doctors in the United States have been performing the surgeries even longer. In 2003, the National Institute of Health’s Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) found that closing the spinal defect in utero reduced the need for shunts after birth and boosted the child’s chances of walking independently. Doctors are also hopeful that the procedure reduces the odds of learning disabilities as well.
Currently, at least 13 hospitals in the U.S. perform the fetal surgery on unborn babies with spina bifida.
Researchers estimate that 68 percent of unborn children who are diagnosed with spina bifida die from abortion. However, the new surgical procedure recognizes that unborn babies also are individual patients who deserve care. And stories like Frankie’s and Carter’s bring hope that more babies like them will be given a chance at life.