Pinhole surgery saves baby

2012-07-12 00:00

A BABY boy whose life was saved by groundbreaking pinhole surgery performed on him while still in his mother’s womb was born fit and healthy at the Netcare Umhlanga Hospital on Tuesday.

Joel Hayden Ford, who was operated on when his mother was 31 weeks pregnant, was delivered via caesarean section at 38 weeks.

The doctors involved in his delivery said he was “strong and healthy” and entered the world weighing 3,32 kilograms.

The pinhole surgery, which involved the insertion of a shunt to drain fluid that had been building up in the foetus’s chest, was performed at Netcare Parklands Hospital in Durban early in June by a team of specialists.

It was the first time the life-saving procedure had been undertaken in KwaZulu-Natal and possibly in the country, said foetal specialist Dr Ismail Bhorat.

Parents Hayden and Tarryn Ford of Umhlanga said they were delighted at the birth of their third child. Hayden, a former Netcare 911 paramedic, said that until now babies with the condition known as hydrothorax had a very poor prognosis.

“Thanks to the outstanding doctors and the latest in medical technology and techniques, we are able to celebrate the birth of our third child,” he added.

“We are very grateful to everyone who was involved in caring for Tarryn and our miracle baby.”

Bhorat said hydrothorax involved the build-up of fluid between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest. The condition occurs in about one in 15 000 foetuses.

The build-up of fluid places pressure on the baby’s chest cavity and can cause breathing problems and prevent the heart from pumping properly.

“The condition inhibits the growth of the baby’s lungs and often causes cardiac failure,” he added.

“No fewer than 90% of babies who develop the condition die before birth. The medical team therefore had no hesitation in recommending the surgery to the Ford family.”

He said the pinhole surgery performed on the foetus was a complete success and allowed the baby’s lungs to expand immediately.

The foetus’s heart, which before the surgery was displaced by the weight of the fluid, also quickly returned to its correct position.

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