Doctors Removed A Baby From The Womb For Surgery Then Put It Back

A mum-to-be underwent ground-breaking surgery in which surgeons removed her unborn baby from the womb to operate on it then put it back.

Bethan post-surgery. Credit: Bethan Simpson/Facebook
Bethan post-surgery. Credit: Bethan Simpson/Facebook

In early December 2018, 26-year-old Bethan Simpson was 20 weeks pregnant and went for her routine scan, when she was told her baby had spina bifida.

Bethan and her husband Kieron were given three options: continue the pregnancy as is, terminate the pregnancy, or opt for a fetal surgery.

In a post on Facebook Bethan said: "We had to do it. We also had to meet some seriously strict criteria. Me and baby went through amniocentesis and MRI and relentless scans. We got approved on the 17th December we planned for surgery. Our lives were such a rollercoaster for the next few weeks."

Bethan's surgery scar. Credit: Bethan Simpson/Facebook
Bethan's surgery scar. Credit: Bethan Simpson/Facebook

Eventually on 8 January, Bethan and her unborn daughter underwent the fetal surgery to repair the baby, making Bethan the fourth woman in the country to undergo such a procedure.

Bethan had the specialised surgery at the University College London Hospital (UCLH), where both mum and baby were worked on by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to repair the baby's spine.

This surgery gives the baby a significantly better chance in life compared to the postnatal surgery - babies born with spina bifida are often not able to walk and require many operations throughout their lives, such as having to have fluid drained from the brain.

The surgery comes with a certain amount of risk as the baby is removed from the womb to be operated on, but fortunately for Bethan and her baby the operation was deemed a success.

Credit: Bethan Simpson/Facebook
Credit: Bethan Simpson/Facebook

Bethan said in her post: "We were a success. Her lesion was small, and she smashed surgery like you wouldn't believe. I'm fragile and sore but as long as she is doing fine that's all we care about.

"Her brain is looking good and her ventricles are normal which luckily hers always have been. They took her out of my womb and popped her straight back in to stay there as long as she can."

She went on to thank the support she'd received from her husband and family.

"I feel our baby kick me day in and day out. That's never changed. She's extra special. She's part of history and our daughter has shown just how much she deserves this life," she added.

Bethan posted a three-and-a-half-week update about her baby saying she is growing well, and an MRI scan revealed the baby's fluid is now actually being utilised in her head and not leaking out of her spine.

Spina bifida is a condition in which the spinal canal does not close completely in the womb, leaving the spinal cord exposed from an early stage in pregnancy.

This results in changes to the brain, as well as severe permanent damage to the nerves on the lower half of the body.

Bethan is now raising money for the SHINE (Spina bifida Hydrocephalus Information Networking and Equality) charity and has so far raised over £400.

Featured Image Credit: Bethan Simpson/Facebook

Rachael Grealish

Rachael is a NCTJ qualified journalist from West Cumbria, with a passion for news, features and journalism. Outside of work Rachael loves plenty of coffee, running and reading.

Next Up

arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up camera clock close comment cursor email facebook-messenger facebook Instagram link new-window phone play share snapchat submit twitter vine whatsapp logoInline safari-pinned-tab Created by potrace 1.11, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2013