A baby girl who was operated on in the womb after being diagnosed with spina bifida has been born completely healthy.
Georgia Axford, 19, and Tyler Kelly, 21, found out that their baby girl had a gap in her spine during the twenty week scan. The surgery needed to repair the defect in the womb has only recently been attempted in the UK, so the couple took out a £9,000 loan and travelled 570 miles to Germany.
The three-hour operation saw surgeons insert a ‘fetoscope’ – a small telescope with a camera and light and two instruments – through a hole in Georgia’s abdomen, and attach a 3.5cm collagen patch used to treat burns victims over the baby’s spine when she was just 2.1oz.
Her parents were so grateful to the surgeon, Proffessor Thomas Kohl, that they named the little girl after him.
Piper-Kohl Kelly was born prematurely at 30 weeks and four days. Although it won’t be known if the operation was completely successful until she starts walking, so far doctors can’t see any signs of a problem and she’s completely healthy.
“Professor Thomas Kohl is an amazing bloke,” said proud dad Tyler. “She was also born on his birthday so it all just fell into place. We’re still in contact with him and keep him posted on Piper’s progress. We’d love to take Piper to Germany so she could meet him.”
“Absolutely worth it”
Mum Georgia also paid tribute to the surgeon, and highlighted the amazing medical developments that mean babies with spina bifida can be given the best possible start in life.
“She was covered in wires when she was first born but it was just the best feeling to see her. She was just so tiny,” she said.
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“You could really see the mark on her spine when she was first born. It really makes you think how incredible the procedure was. We named Piper after the surgeon as a thank you for all he has done.
“I would honestly recommend the surgery to anyone who is a similar boat to us,” she concluded. “It was a bit scary at the time and was a lot of money but it was absolutely worth it.”
The 2017 Abortion statistics for England and Wales list spina bifida as the principal medical condition for 148 babies who were aborted that year because of disability. Let’s hope that stories like this, and the example of loving parents like Georgia and Tyler, encourage others to cherish their babies with spina bifida, and choose life for them.