By Dave Andrusko
In the NRL News that is commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, several of our writers make a point that even pro-lifers tend not to give sufficient weight to: the important on many levels of in utero surgery.
You couldn’t perform what would have been impossible when Justice Harry Blackmun ripped out the heart of American justice—correcting developmental flaws that, left unchecked, would either kill the baby in utero or doom her to a very short life.
As it happens a number of people were kind enough (during the time we took off time for Christmas) to forward me a story that appeared on ABC News. “Miracle Baby: Heart Surgery Before Birth Saves Baby’s Life” can be viewed at http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/miracle-baby-heart-surgery-birth-saves-babys-life-18046319. Please do.
The story is introduced by the news anchor:
“Tonight [December 22] one family is celebrating the holidays with a baby they thought would not be here. This is a medical miracle involving an in utero operation performed months before the child was even born.”
And that’s where watching the video adds so much to the bare description. ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser calls the video taken at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia “a miracle in motion.” We see what appears to be a typical delivery–this baby, just a few minutes old, has some pipes!—and you would never know that doctors had performed fetal heart surgery on him just a few months before.
Besser explains that Katrina Frydlewicz had received “devastating news” at 20 weeks. “She was carrying a fetus that had absence of development of the left side of the heart,” explained Dr. Jack Rychik.
The baby’s heart was only the size of a grape, but doctors wanted to go ahead. The parents, Katrina and Tony Frydlewicz, were informed none of the babies on whom this surgery had been performed made it to their first birthday.
“We held on to that little glimmer of hope that maybe there was some good experimental procedure that would maybe give him a little bit of hope,” Katrina told Besser.
Asked if it was a “tough decision,” Tony said, “It was. [But] we just thought that there has to be a first. There’s a first for everything.”
Katrina added, “And maybe he’ll be it.”
You see a video of the needle pass through the mother’s abdomen and into the baby’s heart where a tiny stent is inserted. The success—if any—would not be known for three months.
That’s went the video cuts to their newborn son followed up by this rhetorical question from Besser: “And remember how we told you that no child undergoing this surgery had ever lived to 1?” Then we see family and friends singing happy birthday to their son!
The piece ends with Besser asking the parents, “What are your dreams for him? “ Tony says simply, “Grow up and hopefully have a family of his own,” slight pause, “Just grow old like the rest of us.”
Besser concludes this inspirational story, “A little fighter looking forward to many more birthdays.”