Parents Of Baby Girl Who Underwent Spinal Surgery In Womb Say Procedure Was 'Absolutely Worth It'
A baby girl has been born after receiving successful surgery on her spine while still in the womb, following the discovery that she had spina bifida during the 20 week scan.
Georgia Axford, 19, and Tyler Kelly, 20, were told their daughter's treatment was available in the UK, but the operation would be performed by a surgeon who had never actually carried out the intricate procedure before.
This meant the couple instead decided to travel 570 miles to Germany, taking out a £9,000 ($11,500) loan for the three-hour operation, which saw surgeons insert a 'fetoscope' (a tiny telescope with camera and light and two instruments) through a hole in Georgia's abdomen.
Georgia and Tyler then welcomed their baby girl, Piper-Kohl Kelly, on 28 July. She was born prematurely at 30 weeks and four days, weighing just 3lb 10oz - with her parents saying the operation was 'absolutely worth it'.
The baby girl even shares a birthday and name with Professor Thomas Kohl, the surgeon who performed the operation.
Sales assistant Georgia, from Yate in South Gloucestershire, said: "She was covered in wires when she was first born but it was just the best feeling to see her. She was just so tiny.
"You could really see the mark on her spine when she was first born.
"It really makes you think how incredible the procedure was.
"I just absolutely love being a mum.
"We named Piper after the surgeon as a thank you for all he has done.
"I would honestly recommend the surgery to anyone who is a similar boat to us.
"It was a bit scary at the time and was a lot of money but it was absolutely worth it.
"I'm just so happy she's here."
Those born with spina bifida struggle with weakness or paralysis in their lower limbs, leaving them dependent on ankle support, crutches or wheelchairs to move around.
In the UK, surgeons usually operate on the baby after birth, reducing the damage but not necessarily some permanent disability.
Therefore, doctors at Southmead Hospital in Bristol told Georgia and Tyler their best bet was fetoscoptic surgery at the University Hospital Gießen, Giessen.
After the successful operation in June, the couple returned home, where Georgia was told to rest up until her due date on 2 October.
However, six weeks later, Georgia went into an early labour and was rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where doctors performed an emergency C-section.
Georgia continued: "I woke up about 11pm and just thought it was back ache so went back to bed. But by 12:30am I was having full blown contractions.
"Tyler drove me to the hospital and he was great because he just remained really calm.
"It was weird because we had a scan that day and she was right up in my rib cage.
"Looking back on it she was probably getting herself ready to come out!
"I didn't get to hold her until 5pm that evening as the nurses said I needed to get some rest.
"We won't know if the operation completely worked until she starts walking, but all looks good at the moment.
"In a couple of months she'll be able to sit up by herself so that might help show if it worked."
Referring to Professor Thomas Kohl as 'an amazing bloke', dad Tyler said they are still in contact with the doctor and would love to take their daughter to Germany to meet him.
Around 24 in 100,000 newborns are affected by spina bifida - a gap in the spine - with 14,000 living with the condition in the UK.
Georgia and Tyler have since set up a fundraising page to help pay off the loan they took out for the op.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS