Mother-to-be, 26, has pioneering surgery on her baby while it's still in the WOMB to correct a spina bifida birth defect

February 12, 2019  10:44

A pregnant women has become one of the first in the UK to have pioneering surgery on her baby's spine while it is still in the womb.

Bethan Simpson, 26, of Burnham, Essex, was first advised to terminate her pregnancy when doctors discovered her baby had the birth defect spina bifida during her 20-week scan.

Refusing to give up on her little one, Mrs Simpson and her husband, Kieron, opted for foetal repair.

This involves doctors operating on the baby's spinal cord while it is still in its mother's uterus.

The surgery was a success and Mrs Simpson is now due to give birth to a baby girl in April.

Until now the operation has only been carried out in Belgium, where a handful of British babies have been successfully treated in recent years, with all doing well.

Mrs Simpson discovered her baby's head was not the right size during a routine scan.

She was sent to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, where doctors diagnosed the youngster with spina bifida.

'Fast forward 48 hours and we were in London having scans on her head and spine,' Mrs Simpson said. 'With that we were told our little girl had spina bifida.

'We were offered continuing pregnancy, ending pregnancy or a new option called fetal surgery - fixing her before she is born. We agreed to do it.'

Mrs Simpson then underwent numerous scans and fluid tests to see if she was eligible for the operation.

The criteria for the procedure is strict, including the mother not having any placenta problems, a short cervix or an obese BMI.

'We got approved and we planned for surgery,' she said.

'Our lives were such a rollercoaster for the next few weeks.'

Around 24 weeks into Mrs Simpson's pregnancy, she underwent foetal repair for spina bifida.

'I had the most recognised surgeons from around the world from University College London Hospital and Belgium looking after me,' she said.

The operation involved positioning the baby's spinal cord to its spinal canal.

Mrs Simpson is said to be doing well and is looking forward to welcoming her baby girl in two months' time.

Speaking of the ordeal, she said: 'Sadly 80 per cent of babies in England are terminated when their parents get told their baby has this condition.

'It's not a death sentence. She has the same potential as every one of us.

'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.'

Source: The Daily Mail

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