Doctors are doing some amazing work to help babies who are suffering from serious health problems before birth.
This month, a Chicago family celebrated the homecoming of their twins after doctors performed a successful fetal surgery that saved the baby girls’ lives, Fox News reports.
Last year, doctors discovered a tumor on one twin’s neck when her mother was just three months pregnant, according to The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Though the tumor was not cancerous, it was restricting baby Jenessa’s breathing and causing fluid to build up in the womb, a threat to both her and her sister, Genesis, the report states.
“It was a scary time, but we were going to go forward and do whatever we had to do to bring my girls into the world,” their mother, Theodora, said.
She found hope after visiting fetal medicine specialist Dr. Aimen Shaaban. He explained how they could perform a surgery to place a breathing tube in Jenessa’s airway and then remove the tumor, the hospital blog reports.
“I didn’t know this type of surgery was even possible,” Theodora said. “When I finally met with Dr. Shaaban and the team, I felt comfortable because they had a plan. Before I came here I wondered what would happen with my girls, but the fetal institute team had their plan, figured out what to do and they made it happen.”
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On Dec. 19, the surgical team performed an E.X.I.T., or ex utero intrapartum treatment, by partially delivering Jenessa and inserting a breathing tube and IV. Genesis remained in the womb, though doctors monitored her closely, the report states.
Doctors then fully delivered Jenessa and immediately took her to surgery to remove the tumor, which had grown almost as big as her head, according to the hospital. Doctors delivered Genesis soon afterward. They were about 10 weeks premature.
Both spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit. The hospital said Genesis was released in March, and Jenessa went home earlier this month. Doctors said Jenessa faced complications that required a tracheostomy tube and a gastrostomy tube, but they hope that she will not need them once she grows stronger.
“I’m so happy for her,” Shaaban said in a statement. “She told us the most important thing is that she takes home the babies that God gave her. And she has.”
Jenessa’s life is just one example of how modern medicine is saving babies while they still are in the womb. Earlier this month, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio celebrated their first successful fetal surgery on an unborn baby with spina bifida. These life-saving procedures are proof that unborn babies are valuable human beings who deserve the same rights and protections as anyone else under the law.