Unborn baby saved by pioneering in utero surgery

By Dave Andrusko

Michelle and Faith Cannon

Michelle and Faith Cannon

The doctors advised Michelle Cannon, from Doncaster, England, to abort her 22-week-old unborn daughter, already named Faith.

Fluid was building up in her baby’s chest and crushing her lungs, a symptom of a very, very rare condition known as hydrops. It “occurs in around one in 15,000 pregnancies,” according to Sophie Borland, Health Correspondent for the Daily Mail. “Only about a third of babies survive, with many others aborted.”

But abortion–“termination”–was not an option for the 31-year-old Cannon, already the mother of two daughters.

‘There was no way we were going to give up on her,’ Cannon told Borland. ‘I burst into tears when I was told the news. But one thing was for certain, we were adamant we were going to keep this baby.”

Faith was too premature to survive delivery, but Miss Cannon refused to abandon hope. She did hours of online research and came across “in-womb surgery.”

Last fall, Cannon and her partner approached doctors at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals maternity unit. The risk was obvious: in utero surgery could potentially cause a miscarriage or trigger a premature labor, and “consultant obstetrician Mr. Roobin Jokhi had never performed the procedure,” Borland notes.

But the doctor agreed it could be the only chance of saving the baby.

During the half-hour operation, carried out under a local anesthetic, a tiny tube was placed in Faith’s chest, allowing the fluid to drain into Miss Cannon’s stomach.

“Faith was also given an injection to reduce her movement and limit any pain,” Borland writes. “After a few weeks the fluid had receded and her lungs inflated – meaning they could work properly when she was born.”

While Faith arrived slightly ahead of schedule–38 weeks– she weighed 8lb 4oz. Five months later she is “healthy and developing well.” Borland ends her story on this happy and encouraging note:

‘When she is older we will tell her all about her miracle operation while she was still in mummy’s womb,’ said Miss Cannon.

‘We’re just so happy and grateful to have her in our lives.’