Amazing Video Shows Baby Who Had Experimental Surgery to Fix Spina Bifida While Still in the Womb

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 24, 2019   |   4:51PM   |   Washington, DC

Doctors in Egypt captured an amazing new surgical procedure on film showing their work on the spine of an unborn baby boy with spina bifida.

Leading the surgical team was Dr. Wael El Banna, of Egypt, who said the baby’s mother chose the surgery after rejecting abortion, the Daily Mail reports. He said both baby and mother are doing well now.

The fetal surgery provides huge promise for children with spina bifida. Though it does not cure the disorder, the surgery helps to minimize damage by closing up holes in the child’s spine. Doctors in the United States and the United Kingdom have been performing these surgeries successfully for years.

El Banna said the surgery that his team performed and captured on video was the first of its kind in the region.

“There are lots of technical complications and lots of things which could go wrong with this procedure,” he said. “But the mother was brave and she didn’t want her son to be disabled and she didn’t want an abortion. This operation has been performed for years in the U.S. and children have better walking and less urinary and bowel incontinence.”

El Banna and his 11-member team spent five hours operating on the mother and her unborn son at Gohar Hospital in Cairo, according to the report. The mother’s name is not provided in the report.

“We located the position of the foetus and then manipulated his body to face the small opening that we made in the womb,” the doctor explained. “Then [we] drained some of the fluid around the foetus and kept the foetus under monitoring through the whole surgery.

“The defect was repaired successfully and the fluid was injected back around the foetus and the womb and abdomen were closed,” he said.

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The mother was 26 weeks pregnant when she underwent the surgery.

“During her antenatal ultrasound she was discovered to have a defect in the back of her foetus,” El Banna said. “Bravely she decided to go through the battle of open fetal surgery and refused the abortion option totally.”

Many mothers choose to abort unborn babies with spina bifida. Researchers estimate about 80 percent of women whose unborn babies are diagnosed with spina bifida have abortions in the United Kingdom. Less is known about the rate in the United States.

In the latest case, however, El Banna said the mother told him that she would sacrifice anything to help her unborn son, even the risks of surgery.

“Her words were so touching – ‘I know that he will suffer and I will do anything to help him,’” he said.

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 baby boy was born in 2018 with a “feisty spirit,” kicking and screaming. Doctors told his parents that these were great signs for a child with spina bifida.

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 reported at the time.