Hope for children with spina bifida is growing as doctors develop new techniques to correct the defect in utero.
Pennsylvania infant Caroline Faith Blaire is excelling after she underwent surgery in the womb last year, WFMJ News reports.
Caroline’s parents, Michelle and Ben Blaire, of Hermitage, said they prayed for a miracle for their daughter, and they got one.
During her pregnancy, Michelle Blaire said doctors diagnosed her unborn daughter with spina bifida myelomeningocele, the most severe form of the defect. Despite the dire diagnosis, “abortion was never an option for us,” she said.
The family put their hope in their faith and prayed for a miracle. And at 25 weeks of pregnancy, doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center were an answer to those prayers.
According to the report, the surgical team removed Michelle’s uterus and cut it open to operate on Caroline’s spine. They closed up a hole in her back to prevent the amniotic fluid from further damaging her spine.
Six weeks later, Caroline was born weighing 2 pounds, 9 ounces, the report states.
Here’s more from the report:
She is now progressing right on track.
“She has not needed a shunt because her brain has stabilized she is developmentally right on track. She can move around, her bladder functions,” said Michelle.
“She is just like any other little girl, but she is our miracle,” said Ben.
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Doctors have been performing in-utero surgery for spina bifida and other ailments for years in the United States. In 2003, the National Institute of Health’s Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) found that closing the spinal defect in utero reduces the need for shunts after birth and boosts the child’s chances of walking independently.
Last year, the New York Times highlighted an experimental new surgery for unborn babies with spina bifida. Rather than remove the uterus to operate, doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital made small incisions into Lexi Royer’s uterus and used a camera and surgical tools to repair a gap in her unborn son’s spine.
The New York Times reports the baby boy was born in January with a “feisty spirit,” kicking and screaming. Doctors told his parents that these were great signs for a child with spina bifida.
“It was so worth it,” Lexi Royer told the newspaper. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. That’s for sure.”
She said doctors tried to pressure her to have an abortion, but she refused.
In 2014, LifeNews reported British doctors performed the first in-utero surgery on an unborn baby girl with spina bifida. The surgery was a success, and by December 2016, 14-month-old Frankie was overcoming her disability and learning to walk, The Express reports.
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, these new surgical procedures recognize that unborn babies are individual patients who deserve care, not death.