An unborn baby was removed from her mother’s womb for treatment before being put back in a groundbreaking new procedure.
Simpson, a 26-year-old nurse from Essex in the United Kingdom, was given the option to get an abortion before they learned about the procedure.
Only a handful of women have undergone the operation, and Simpson is the fourth. For the new mother, a team of Belgian and British surgeons carried it out.
During a 20-week ultrasound, it was learned that the girl’s head wasn’t the right measurement, and the unborn child was diagnosed with spina bifida, which is when the baby’s spinal cord doesn’t fully develop in the mother’s womb.
“Our midwife made an appointment in London. Fast forward 48 hours, we were in London having scans on her head and spine,” Simpson wrote on social media.
She said the child had spina bifida, and they “offered continuing pregnancy, ending pregnancy or a new option called fetal surgery,” which would entail “fixing her before she is born.”
“We had to do it,” she remarked. “Our lives were such a rollercoaster for the next few weeks.”
Twenty-four weeks into Simpson’s pregnancy, the operation to remove the girl took was carried out by surgeons with University College Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, the report said.
She added, “I had the most recognized surgeons from around the world from University College London Hospital and Belgium looking after me.”
“We were a success. Her lesion was small and she smashed surgery like you wouldn’t believe. I’m fragile and sore but as long as she is doing fine that all we care about,” the expecting mom said.
But she said that about 80 percent of babies in the UK “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,” 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.’
Spina BifidaAccording to the Mayo Clinic, spina bifida "falls under the broader category of neural tube defects. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them."
"Normally, the neural tube forms early in pregnancy, and it closes by the 28th day after conception. In babies with spina bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the spine," said the organization's website.
Doctors aren't sure what causes the defect, but some have speculated a deficiency in folate, or vitamin B-9. Folate is found folic acid.
Also, some medications might be the cause.
"For example, anti-seizure medications, such as valproic acid (Depakene), seem to cause neural tube defects when taken during pregnancy," said the clinic.
Women with obesity and diabetes also appear to increase the risk of spina bifida occurring in their babies, according to the website.