Cape Town baby born with intestines protruding from his body reunited with family

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Ephraim and his family reunited after months of hospitalisation.
Ephraim and his family reunited after months of hospitalisation.
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  • A Cape Town baby who was born with his intestines and half his liver protruding from his body in a translucent "bubble", is back home.
  • The little one spent two months in hospital.
  • Little Ephraim, was diagnosed with a condition known as exomphalos.


A Cape Town baby who was born with his intestines and half his liver protruding from his body in a translucent "bubble", has been discharged from hospital.

Baby Ephraim Maleho, spent about two months in hospital after being diagnosed with a condition known as exomphalos. 

According to his mom, Beneline Maleho, her boy was diagnosed while she was pregnant with him.

"At the 13-week ultrasound scan of my pregnancy, the doctor picked up something unusual about the baby," said Maleho.

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"We found out that some of his internal organs were developing outside his body, a condition known as exomphalos," she added.

Maleho said she and the baby's father, Melvory van Wyk, knew there was something special about the child, and even though there were major risks, they knew they would stop at nothing to give him a chance to live.

"I thanked God every day when I opened my eyes and I felt the baby kicking. It was like he was saying, 'Don't worry, mommy, I'm fine'."

Van Wyk added that their baby's birth was "powerfully emotional". He said:

We were so relieved that he had survived, but the neonatal intensive care team needed to stabilise him and he was immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit [NICU] so we were very worried, and we knew it was the start of a long journey.

Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital's Dr Ricky Dippenaar described exomphalos as a defect in the central abdomen, resulting in a sealed sack outside the body containing some of the abdominal organs, resembling a bubble with the organs clearly visible.

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"What made Ephraim's lesion particularly unusual was not only its size, but the fact that not only the small and large intestines, but also half of his liver were protruding through his abdominal wall within this translucent bubble, redefining this lesion as a hepato-omphalocele," explained Dippenaar.

The medical team's biggest challenge was that as a result of the organs being outside his body, his abdominal cavity had not developed.

"His intestines and organs could not simply be moved into the position they would usually be in; we needed time for the skin to grow to make enough space in his tummy."

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Despite the complications that were present at birth, Dippenaar said that with the constricting dressing, the bubble reduced dramatically, gently squeezing the organs into his abdomen, and allowing Ephraim's abdominal cavity to expand.

Shrunk

After two months, the cavity was large enough to fit all Ephraim's organs safely inside and the external sac had shrunk to resemble "a tiny rhino horn, tough, firm and providing total protection".

Ephraim later underwent surgery where his organs were placed back into his abdominal cavity.

"We thank God for sending these angels to look after our son. They were open about the risks, and supported us to make the necessary decisions for our son, informed by the facts," Van Wyk said in thanking the doctors.

"We want other families to know that there are people who understand what it is like to go through a difficult journey like we had with Ephraim, and that there is hope."

"He is our little miracle warrior," he added.

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