The following comes from an Oct. 8 story in the Los Angeles Times.
A wire the width of a hair. A balloon just a few millimeters wide. A needle measuring 11 centimeters exactly.
These were the tools that a team of doctors in Los Angeles used to open up a narrow aortic valve in the heart of a 25-week-old fetus still growing in its mom’s belly.
The procedure is known as a fetal aortic valvuloplasty. It was also a first for Southern California.
A few weeks before the doctors gathered in the operating room at CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, fetal cardiologist Dr. Jay Pruetz of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles diagnosed the fetus as having severe aortic stenosis. That means the baby’s aortic valve was very tight. Blood was backing up in the left ventricle of the baby’s heart, keeping it from pumping normally.
If doctors had not intervened, the left ventricle would not develop properly, and the baby would likely be born with a life-threatening condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
In the video above, you can watch part of what happened when the team of doctors did intervene.
After practicing a few times with a model of jello and a grape — the grape standing in for the heart, the jello standing in for the surrounding body — the doctors performed the procedure on Sept. 25. Mom had local anesthesia and was sedated. The baby was given anesthesia and a muscle relaxant so it wouldn’t switch positions at an inopportune time.
Dr. Ramen Chmait, assistant professor at Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of Los Angeles Fetal Therapy, inserted a thin metal tube (he calls it a needle) through the mom’s belly, into the uterus, through the amniotic cavity and into the fetus’s chest.
In the ultrasound video above, you can watch as he continues to maneuver the needle, ever so carefully, through the fetus’s heart, stopping when it is directed toward the narrow aortic valve.
(And for a little perspective, the heart of a fetus this young is about the size of a walnut).
With the needle in place, pediatric interventional cardiologist Frank Ing of CHLA threaded a thin wire just 14/1000s of an inch down through the needle.
The wire served as a rail for Dr. Ing to push a tiny balloon that inflates to 3.25 millimeters wide across the aortic valve. The balloon was attached to a catheter. Dr. Ing carefully inflated the balloon with a premeasured amount of liquid.
The inflated balloon stretched and even tore a small part of the aortic valve, allowing more blood to flow to the fetus’s heart.
Then out came the balloon, wire, and needle, and the procedure was over.
Both Dr. Ing and Dr. Chmait relied on ultrasound imaging by Pruetz to see what they were doing.
A few weeks after the surgery, the doctors report that both mom and fetus are doing fine….
To read the original story, click here.
Reading this article absolutely gave me chills. Such skill! Such amazing dexterity! What a fortunate little baby in so many ways. Doctors like this are such a gift. May God richly bless him and his team and the parents of this precious little life. Wow…a grape and jello. I hope everyone is praying for 40 Days of Life prayer warriors right now , for like these marvelous doctors, they’re fighting to preserve life.
I agree Dana and lets continue to pray for this baby and the mum too. They need our prayers for quick healing. I am so happy to read about this news, it’s nice when our current medical field has done good by saving life’s. When it’s used for the right purpose.
God bless these doctors and their medical team. These are our true heroes. Notice, too, that they anesthetized the fetus. Something that is not done when a child is torn apart or burned to death in an abortion.
I think it would be better to state that the pre-born baby is doing fine.
We are a bizarre society, if we allow such little children to be killed in utero, knowing full well that they are distinct human lives. If they were NOT, who on the planet would BOTHER with such intricate surgery???
The fact that the mother does not want the baby does NOT remove the baby’s right to life — for heaven’s sake, it’s not like the mom is having a tumor removed, or getting a face lift, we are talking about human life.
As a former Cardiac Cath Lab nurse, and a friend of a nursing colleague who had a son with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, I am fascinated with this procedure. I pray this baby’s left ventricle grows normally in its remaining 15 weeks of gestation. God bless these doctors who promote life instead of aborting this baby with a heart defect.
“size of a walnut”….wow what a miracle! This is what happens when people use their talents for good. God bless them for honoring life and God in this blessing of a surgery. I am grateful that mum and baby are doing fine now. I can imagine the worry these parents went through especially the mum. We must magnify these good news more, we are so overwhelmed with the abortion issues, that this news articles just gives us a break and it helps us to step back and not always focus on the negative, we need a little glimpse of light and hope, not all humanity has gone bad, not all.
Wow! Hope this story gets wide circulation.
I hope so too….
Abeca, please pray also for that dear little baby in Queens NY found in a trash can. She was found by neighbors and it looks like she might make it. I miss Catherine. I hope she’ll join in prayer for this little one.
Dana thank you for letting me know, I will definitely keep that precious baby in my prayers. She will : ) Catherine is a good soul, she is consistent in her loyalty to the faith….she shine in Christ….