Friday , January 15 2021

Essex baby's spine repaired & # 39; in the womb

Bethan SimpsonPicture Copyright
Bethan Simpson


Bethan Simpson's unborn child had fetal repair at 24 weeks of pregnancy

An unborn baby has had surgery on her back while still in the mother's womb.

Bethan Simpson, 26, from Maldon, Essex, was told her unborn daughter Eloise had spina bifida at her 20-week scan.

Mrs Simpson has become one of the first mothers in the UK to undergo the groundbreaking "fetal repair" operation.

During a four-hour operation, her uterus was opened and her baby's bottom exhibited so surgeons could "sew" a small hole in her lower spine.

Mrs Simpson said she "could not justify ending a child I could feel kicking".

The procedure has been considered successful and the child is due in April.

Mrs Simpson said she and husband Keiron were recommended to terminate their pregnancy after the condition was diagnosed, but the decision to choose fetal repair was a "no brainer".

"I'm told she's paralyzed, but she wasn't much," said Mrs Simpson.

Picture Copyright
Bethan Simpson


Mrs. Simpson underwent surgery after 24 weeks to treat the spina bifida of her unborn daughter

She was approved for surgery at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in December following a series of tests and scans and described the following weeks as a "slide".

The operation after 24 weeks involved opening his uterus and lifting her baby in position to repair the hole, and relocating the baby's spinal cord.

"I got out of the operation at one and could feel her movement that night," said Mrs Simpson.

"It was soothing to feel the first kick after the anesthesia worn out. She's bigger now of course, and her kick is stronger."

Mrs Simpson said she remembered the surgeon telling her in the ward later: "I've been holding your baby."

Picture Copyright
Bethan Simpson


Bethan and Keiron Simpson's daughter Eloise are due in April

Mrs Simpson is considered the fourth patient to undergo surgery in the UK, where the procedure is mainly conducted in Belgium and the United States.

From April, the procedure will be available on the NHS in England. Two hundred babies are born with spina bifida in the UK every year.

Great Ormond Street Hospital's leading neurosurgeon, Dominic Thompson, described the operation on Mrs Simpson's baby as "an incredible journey".

"So far, when people got this devastating news, there were two options – continue the pregnancy or termination. It now gives a third option," he said.

"It's not a cure. But there are clear evidences through critical trials that prospects may be much better with surgery early."


Mrs Simpson is the fourth patient to undergo the groundbreaking operation

Gill Yaz, of spina bifida charity Shine, said fetal medicine consultants recognized there were opportunities available "rather than just termination".

"People should be aware that this is not a cure, in some cases it can make no difference," she said.

"They have to go into this with their eyes wide open."

Mrs. Simpson urged parents to consider surgery and "give every opportunity a chance".

"There are unknowns – it's a big operation and the biggest decision you get in your life," she said.

"But remember that most children born with spina bifida today go and reach normal milestones."

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Spina bifida occurs in approx. four in 10,000 pregnancies

Spina bifida and fetal repair surgery

Spina bifida literally means "split the spine" and occurs when the spine and cord are not properly formed during pregnancy (before the sixth week) – leaving the nerves.

It occurs in about four in 10,000 pregnancies.

The cause is unknown, but mothers are encouraged to take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of developing spina bifida in early pregnancy.

Children born with the condition can become paralyzed, suffer from intestinal and intestinal problems – and this can affect brain development.

It is estimated that approx. 80% of mothers choose termination when spina bifida is diagnosed, although the condition varies in severity.

The delicate surgical procedure involves opening the uterus and closing the hole in the baby's back while still in the uterus.

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