Heart surgery performed in utero – healthy baby delivered



In Canada, Kristine Barry was twenty weeks pregnant when she learned that her baby had two serious congenital heart defects. The heart was not pumping adequately to ensure the healthy flow of blood and oxygen through baby’s body.

 

Doctors warned the mother that it would not be possible to save the child at birth. The baby would probably die from asphyxia in the time taken to transport him from the delivery room to the operating theatre. So the medical profession decided to perform surgery in utero in order to improve heart function and to save time transporting the new-born baby to theatre.

 

The procedure was not without risk as it involved opening foetal heart valves. An ultrasound-guided needle was inserted into the mother's stomach, and straight into the heart of the foetus. Once inside, surgeons created  a hole measuring 3.5 mm in the atrial septum, allowing blood and oxygen to escape.

 

The procedure was a success and Sebastian was born by Caesarean section on 23 May 2017. The little boy's life is no longer in danger as open-heart surgery was performed one week later. However, Sébastian will have to undergo regular check-ups and may need further surgery in the future.

 

Further reading

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Sources: 

Daily Mail, Mia de Graaf (26/07/2017)