Saturday, June 7, 2008

Baby Born Twice

Macie Hope McCartney was born twice, once at six months gestation when she was brought out for surgery, and again at eight months. An ultrasound showed that Keri McCartney’s baby had a tumor the size of a grapefruit, benign but still deadly. The only hope was immediate surgery, although the pregnancy wasn’t far enough along to ensure survival. Fetal surgeon Dr. Darrell Cass explained the operation:

“It required that Mrs. McCartney went under a very, very deep anesthesia, about seven times deeper than the average operation,” he said. “That’s necessary in order to have the uterus very, very relaxed.”

He and two other surgeons opened Keri’s abdomen and brought her uterus entirely outside her body. “We had to find an area of the uterus that we could open safely so that we didn’t disturb the placenta,” he explained.

When they found such a place, they opened the relaxed womb and extracted about 80 percent of Macie Hope’s body — which weighed no more than a quarter of a pound — leaving just the head and upper body in the womb. Exposing the fetus to the air carried the danger that she would go into cardiac arrest, and the surgeons worked quickly to remove the tumor and return Macie to the safety of the womb.

That part of the four-hour procedure took about 20 minutes. The surgeons then had to carefully close up the uterus so that it would be watertight, to keep the amniotic fluid from leaking out.

“Then we had to hope that the pregnancy was going to last,” Cass added.

It lasted another ten weeks. Macie Hope was delivered on May 3 perfectly healthy.

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