Baby undergoes surgery while still in the womb

Christopher Havill and Kristine Barry from Toronto, Canada, were overjoyed to be expecting their first child. But it was not long into the pregnancy before they heard what all future parents dread: the doctors had bad news. The couple were told their baby would be born blue.

One of the side-effects of heart malformations in fetuses is that their skin can look blue at birth. An ultrasound revealed that Christopher and Kristine's baby had serious congenital defects: the heart did not pump enough blood, while the pulmonary artery and the aorta had formed in the wrong place. All of this meant that oxygen was barely circulating in the tiny body.  

Doctors prepared the couple for the worst: their baby would either be stillborn or would die a few minutes after birth due to lack of oxygen. Even if the baby did make it through the delivery, the medical team was afraid there might not be enough time to get it from the delivery room into surgery before it was too late.

The doctors then came up with what seemed like a crazy plan: to operate on the baby's heart while it was still in Kristine's womb. It was a procedure that had never been done before and quickly caught the attention of the entire medical community around the world.

During surgery, doctors used ultrasound images to guide them while, with a needle, they inserted a device into the baby's heart. Although the procedure went well, it was so unprecedented that nobody could guarantee it would actually work. The young parents were warned that their child could still face serious complications at birth.

Thankfully, the doctors' worst fears were not confirmed! On May 23, healthy and pink baby Sebastian was born at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. He was delivered by C-section four months premature, and just one week later had to undergo open-heart surgery to definitively repair his heart valves.

Sebastian is now three months old and is growing strong and healthy. Though he will need to be closely monitored in future to make sure everything remains fine, his parents know that the surgery performed while he was still in the womb saved his life. And after all, a few more doctor appointments down the road are a very small price to pay for having their son in their arms.

You can help the family by donating on their GoFundMe page. Congratulations to all involved and best of luck to Sebastian for the rest of his (hopefully) very long life!

 

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