Breakthrough in-utero surgery treats devastating birth defect


Photo from University of Pittsburgh

From NY PostThis baby went under the knife — from inside the womb.

Emery Greene Mullin was born two months after a January operation to correct her spina bifida. She is one of the first babies to undergo the surgery in-utero.

The potentially fatal condition occurs when the spine doesn’t fully fuse with the backbone, exposing it to amniotic fluid. This can lead to severe health issues, including hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, which can impair motor function.

As a pediatric intensive care nurse at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Emery’s mom, Allee, has worked with kids who have spina bifida. She found out about her own daughter’s condition while 20 weeks pregnant.

We are primarily funded by readers. Please subscribe and donate to support us!

“It’s a devastating diagnosis,” Dr. Stephen Emery told WTAE News. He was one of the operating surgeons at UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital, along with Dr. Stephanie Greene.

Although the surgery brought serious risks for both Emery and Allee, it potentially meant “the difference between not walking and walking,” Dr. Greene told WTAE.

Emery was born with her back fully healed, and a postnatal neurological exam yielded promising results.

“She can’t point her toes down quite all the way with one foot,” said Dr. Greene. But, she added, this is still a huge improvement. “To be fair…she shouldn’t have had movement below her knees.”

Allee was so grateful to the doctors she named her baby after them: Emery Greene. “It’s really emotional,” Greene said. “It’s the highest honor I could imagine somebody giving me.”

Read the whole story here at the University of Pittsburgh web site.




Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.