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Baby operated on outside of womb for ground-breaking operation

Pioneering procedure carried out after tests revealed Bethan Simpson's child had Spina Bifida

Toyin Owoseje
Monday 11 February 2019 20:04 GMT
Bethany Simpson had the pioneering procedure in December
Bethany Simpson had the pioneering procedure in December (Bethan Simpson)

A baby has been pulled from its mother's womb for an operation before it was placed back in for the duration of the pregnancy.

Bethan Simpson was 20 weeks pregnant when a routine 20-week scan revealed the infant that the baby’s head was not the right measurement, and the child’s spinal cord had not fully developed.

Doctors diagnosed Spina Bifida and Ms Simpson and her husband Kieron were given three options: continue the pregnancy, terminate the child, or opt for a fetal repair surgery. She decided on the latter.

“We had to do it. We also had to meet some seriously strict criteria. Me and baby went through amniocentesis and MRI and relentless scans," said the 26-year-old from Burnham, Essex. "We got approved on 17 December we planned for surgery. Our lives were such a rollercoaster for the next few weeks.”

So Ms Simpson, who is due to give birth in April, had the specialised surgery at the University College London Hospital, where doctors from Great Ormond Street Hospital worked to repair the baby's spine.

The surgery saw the baby removed from Ms Simpson’s womb, before its spinal cord was repair.

The infant was the placed back in the womb for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Ms Simpson is only the fourth mother in the UK to undergo the procedure.

Recalling the surgery, she said: “I had the most recognised surgeons from around the world from University College London Hospital and Belgium looking after me.”

She added that it was sad that 80 per cent of babies in England are terminated when their parents get told their baby has Spina Bifida.

“It's not a death sentence. She has the same potential as every one of us,” she said. ”Yes, there are risks of things going wrong but please think more about Spina Bifida, it's not what it used to be. I feel our baby kick me day in and day out, that's never changed. She's extra special, she's part of history and our daughter has shown just how much she deserves this life.”

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