In the United Kingdom, preborn babies are being saved from abortion every day through the growing use of in utero surgery for spina bifida, a condition where a baby’s “spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.”
When parents receive a prenatal diagnosis of a particular birth defect, sometimes the information about it is accompanied with a suggestion that the couple should pursue an abortion. This is especially true for babies with spina bifida, but hospitals in the U.K. are helping babies live stronger and healthier lives by intervening when the child is still in the womb. Performing surgery that not only saves their lives from abortion, but oftentimes avoids other potential complications, like paralysis, as well.
Since January 2020, the National Health Services (NHS) has performed 32 surgeries on babies in the womb.
Surgery made a world of difference for Helena Purcell, who was told that her second child who she conceived after six failed rounds of IVF, would have the condition, which in addition to paralysis can cause bowel, bladder and kidney problems.
Before the surgery, Purcell was told that there was a strong possibility that her child would be paralyzed and incontinent and would likely need a shunt in her brain.
Purcell said: “I cannot explain the massive difference the service has had for my family. The NHS doctors are heroes in my eyes, and the surgery they did is just mind-blowing.
“If it wasn’t for them then Mila would be paralyzed. I am just so grateful that she has had this chance.”
According to the report, “Mila can move her legs, is fully continent and although she still has some fluid on her brain, is so far showing signs of good development.”
“The procedure is complex, time-sensitive and not without its risks, but the significant and life-changing impact on babies … and their families, cannot be overstated,” Dr. Dominic Thompson, lead neurosurgeon at the hospital where the little girl was treated, said in the statement. “This makes all the difference to the quality of their lives.”
It also saves these children from potential abortions.
When it comes to certain conditions, like Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and others, physicians are often quick to suggest abortion as a potential “treatment.”
While not all conditions are treatable or reversible, physicians should continue to develop the best in utero treatment options so that they can help give babies and families hope in a dark time.
Dr. Paola De Coppi said that they’re going to continue developing new and better treatment options, “As with any new approach, we first need to fully understand the benefits and risks involved to mother and baby. While we look to make these future procedures as safe as possible, what is clear is that prenatal surgery for patients with spina bifida leads to better outcomes.”
It’s encouraging to see physicians see these babies in the wombs as individual lives worthy of protection and the appropriate medical care.
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