By Dave Andrusko
Fox News and MSNBC News today reprinted a story from MyHealthNewsDaily.com that tells the remarkable story of a now 5-year-old girl who is thriving after in-utero surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as part of a larger look at the ways surgery on babies before birth is expanding.
Five and a half years ago Mary Kelly’s routine ultrasound revealed that her unborn daughter, Addison, had a tumor between the heart and lungs that was causing heart failure and fetal hydrops. This condition results in the baby taking on so much fluid it’s unlikely she would survive.
Only 26 weeks along, the Kellys explored their options and opted for surgery, according to reporter Joseph Brownstein. They were the second mother and child to undergo this very complicated fetal surgery.
The plan was to remove Addison from her mother’s womb, do the surgery, and place her back in her mother’s uterus to allow her to continue developing in utero for another ten weeks. Instead, a few days later “Addison Hope Kelly was born almost three months premature,” Brownstein reports.
And although Addison’s been through more than her fair share of challenges (she was almost one year old before she came home from the hospital), ”she will begin kindergarten this fall.”
Dr. Scott Adzick is the surgeon-in-chief at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where about 150 fetal surgeries are performed each year.
“Adzick was among the researchers who contributed to the development of fetal surgery in the 1980s,” Brownstein explains. “Since then, fetal surgeons have removed tumors, repaired holes in the diaphragm affecting lung development and treated conditions that threaten twin pregnancies.” Correcting an obstructed bladder was the first ever open-fetal surgery ever performed; the year was 1981.
As NRL News Today reported last year, Adzick and colleagues at other universities compared the results that followed repairing the most severe form of spinal bifida with repairing the problem after birth. Brownstein writes, “While the results showed that mothers and children faced risks from the surgery, the trial was halted early because it overwhelmingly showed that fetal surgery produced better outcomes than repair after birth.”
In his concluding section, “The future of fetal surgery,” Brownstein writes about improvements in fetal surgery that include “using less invasive or earlier treatments. One hope is that procedures done today for fetuses who are twentysome weeks old could be done sooner, with greater benefit.”
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