Baby born healthy after in-womb spina bifida surgery

A baby who received a pioneering in-womb operation for spina bifida is now home and well, with her mother saying her daughter is “living proof of what this surgery can do”.

Bethan and Kieron Simpson opted to have the operation, after rejecting an abortion.

Their “incredible” little girl Elouise was born on 1 April.

A ‘no brainer’

The Simpsons, from Essex, were told that Elouise had spina bifida during the 20-week scan.

The condition is caused when the spinal cord does not develop properly, in some cases resulting in paralysis and brain damage.

Mum Bethan said: “We were offered continuing pregnancy, ending pregnancy or a new option called foetal surgery.”

The decision to opt for the spina bifida surgery was a “no brainer” for the couple.

Minimal effects

Bethan underwent a four-hour operation at 25 weeks, during which her womb was opened and a series of tiny stitches were used to close the opening in the baby’s spine.

The family were told to “expect the worst”, but doctors now hope the effects of the condition will be minimal.

Bethan said: “She has slightly enlarged ventricles, which she always did have, but her kidneys, bladder and hips are all normal and she has sensation right down to her toes.”

“Her legs kick, her toes curl. Bless her, she doesn’t even know the impact she has had”, she added: “We may have been through a lot, but I’d do it for Elouise again in a heartbeat.”

Routinely available

Elouise has been home over a week and “shows no signs” of the condition.

Her surgery was funded by a charitable trust set up by University College Hospital in London and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

But the NHS have confirmed that the in-womb surgery will soon be routinely available.


Under legislation in England, Wales and Scotland, babies affected by spina bifida can be aborted up to birth.

Babies in Northern Ireland are protected, but pressure is being brought by abortionists and some politicians for those protections to be removed.

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