The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

‘Ge­nius’ in-womb op­er­a­tion saves baby


A mother has praised medics who car­ried out life-sav­ing surgery on her un­born baby and called the pro­ce­dure “ge­nius”.

Scans at 28 weeks re­vealed Ruth El­der’s baby had de­vel­oped the con­di­tion hy­drops fe­talis – an ab­nor­mal ac­cu­mu­la­tion of fluid around the heart, lungs and in­side the ab­domen of her un­born child.

An ini­tial at­tempt to re­move the fluid failed, so Pro­fes­sor Stephen Rob­son led a skilled team at New­cas­tle’s Royal Victoria In­fir­mary and per­formed the in-utero surgery, guided by ul­tra­sound.

Mrs El­der, 32, from Ch­esterle-Street, County Durham, said: “It all hap­pened re­ally quickly so there wasn’t a great deal of time to worry about what the pro­ce­dure would en­tail, I just wanted them to do what­ever they needed to do to try to save our baby.”

It hap­pened dur­ing the 29th week of preg­nancy when Pro­fes­sor Rob­son placed a chest shunt into her ab­domen, through the wall of the womb and into the baby’s chest wall to re­move fluid from around the lungs.

Mrs El­der, mar­ried to Ross and also mother of three-yearold Henry, only had a lo­cal anaes­thetic.

The pro­fes­sor said the shunt was the only op­tion as the baby was so ill and with­out it her chances of sur­vival were low.

He said: “There aren’t a large num­ber of fe­tal ab­nor­mal­i­ties that you can treat in the womb, but this op­tion is some­times avail­able and in­ter­ven­tion can be very ef­fec­tive.

“The in­ten­tion with Ruth’s surgery was to place a shunt in both sides of the baby’s chest but be­cause of the po­si­tion of the baby in the womb we were only able to ac­cess the right side.”

The op­er­a­tion was a suc­cess and Ruth gave birth to Har­riet via a cae­sarean sec­tion.

 ??  ?? ‘Ge­nius’ Pro­fes­sor Stephen Rob­son with the now-healthy Har­riet El­der
‘Ge­nius’ Pro­fes­sor Stephen Rob­son with the now-healthy Har­riet El­der

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