Photo: Chile Hospital Performs Life-Saving Surgery on Unborn Child, Only 2nd in History
Doctors in Chile have announced that they have successfully operated on an unborn baby inside its mother’s womb saving its life. The surgery is only the second ever done – the first taking place in Spain – and the first done in Latin America.
The unborn child of Karina Fernández was in distress. It was suffering from what is called massive pleural effusion, a build up of fluid in the chest cavity which can damage the heart and lungs.
Pleural fluid is secreted to lubricate the chest tissue around the lungs, but in the unborn child’s case, the fluid was being leaked in faster than it could be absorbed.
Marcelo Rodríguez, a perinatologist involved in the surgery told La Tercera, “Given the problem, the only solution was to drain the (excess fluids).”
One solution proposed was to have a catheter put in to drain the fluid, but at US$500, the operation was more than Fernandez could afford. The public hospital was also not equipped to do such a procedure.
In the 27th week of pregnancy, doctors performed what is known as “pleuroplasia”, which had them pierce the baby’s chest using a trocar and drain the fluid. A bit of the mother’s blood was inserted to seal the open space.
Rodriguez told a radio show, “We are taking advantage of the characteristics of blood, using its natural coagulation properties to seal the surrounding membranes together so that the space does not continue to produce liquid.”
The child’s cavity filled up once more, and the surgery was performed again, this time with permanent positive results.
Friday, August 5th, at 32 weeks, Fernández gave birth to an 8lb 8oz healthy baby boy.