A 21-week-old Fetus Catches The Doctor's Finger From The Uterus During A Surgery

Congenital malformation is a physical defect present in a baby at birth that may involve different parts of the body, including the brain, heart, lungs, liver, bones and intestinal tract. Examples include cardiac malformations, cleft lip and palate, limb abnormalities, Down syndrome, spina bifida. Fortunately, science has evolved and some babies can now be saved through surgery, as evidenced by the amazing story of this baby who had spina bifida in her mother's womb.

What is spina bifida?
Spina bifida is a condition in which the bones of the spine do not completely cover the spinal cord, leaving it exposed. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can affect physical and intellectual development.

It is a congenital problem, present before birth, and is caused by the incomplete closure of the embryonic neural tube. It is a defect of the neural tube.

During the first month after conception, the embryo develops a primitive tissue structure known as the neural tube. This structure develops gradually in bones, nerves and tissues. These eventually form the nervous system, the spine and a bone crest that protects and surrounds the nerves.

In the case of spina bifida, the neural tube, which is the precursor of the spinal cord and brain, and the spine do not develop properly. The spine does not close completely, and remains exposed along several vertebrae. It is therefore a malformation of the spine.

Surgery and other treatment options can improve the quality of life of someone with severe symptoms.

Facts about spina bifida
Spina Bifida affects about one birth in 2000.
Low intake of folic acid before and during pregnancy has been associated with spina bifida.

Treatment options include surgery, physiotherapy and assistive devices.

Types of Spina-bifida
There are four main types of spina bifida: myelomeningocele, spina bifida occulta, lipomyelomeningocele and meningocele. Myelomeningocele is the most serious type and the symptoms can be severe. In spina bifida occulta, symptoms may be barely noticeable.

Symptoms of Spina Bifida
An infant born with spina bifida may have or develop:
  • Weakness or paralysis in the legs
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Intestinal incontinence
  • A lack of sensation in the skin

An accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and spinal cord), leading to hydrocephalus (excessive accumulation), and possibly brain damage.

A particular operation
On August 19, 1999, a medical team in Nashville, United States, performed surgery on a pregnant woman named Julie Armas, specifically, on the 21-week-old fetus in her womb.

Her baby was diagnosed with a spinal malformation, called spina bifida, even before birth. To try to remedy this malformation, the specialists decided to carry out an innovative prenatal surgery.

During the procedure, Dr. Joseph Bruner, in charge of the operation, took the fetus out by means of a caesarean section and made a small incision to operate the baby. As he finished the operation, the 21-week-old baby, who had emerged from Julie's belly, grabbed Dr. Bruner's finger, which was the first human interaction ever recorded.

Four months later, on December 2, 1999, Samuel Armas was born thanks to a successful surgery. Moreover, this image of baby Samuel who holds the hand of the doctor went around the world.

A 21-week-old Fetus Catches The Doctor's Finger From The Uterus During An Operation

Today, Samuel is a 16 year old teenager. He wears lower splints and uses a wheelchair for longer distances. But, he is fine and can move normally. He enjoys swimming and playing basketball.

A 21-week-old Fetus Catches The Doctor's Finger From The Uterus During An Operation

It's amazing that this "hand of hope" has become a healthy young man. The 21-week-old baby really got hooked on life and could have a normal life. The prowess of science especially in the medical field have saved many lives and saved many people from many health problems, thank you science!
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