Medics at a London hospital have carried out an in-womb blood transfusion on a child who was just 20-weeks old.
A doctor used an ultrasound sensor to guide the needle into the umbilical cord, which was approximately 2 to 3mm wide at the time.
Edward, also called Teddy, received further transfusions before and after birth and is now “happy and healthy”.
Teddy developed anaemia when his red blood cells were attacked by antibodies in his mother’s blood cells.
This led to hydrops fetalis, an accumulation of fluid in his chest and abdomen, which required the vital injection.
Dr Amarnath Bhide, who led the procedure, explained the significance of the operation: “Usually we would do one, or possibly two transfusions in total starting from 28/29 weeks, so for baby Edward to have received five transfusions between 20 and 32 weeks is quite something.”
“I’m very pleased for Emma and Teddy. We have done this procedure before but it’s uncommon for us to have to do it so early in the pregnancy.
“Everything is so small at 20 weeks and the chance that things go wrong also increases.”
Abortion is currently legal in Great Britain up to 24 weeks, or up to birth in cases of severe disabilities.
’Beauty and dignity’
Commenting on the case, Michael Robinson, Director of Communications for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland, said:
“Scientific developments and new technology is now instilling a sense of awe that society never really had before, about the beauty and dignity of every unborn child.”
“The use of in utero surgery, highlights that unborn children are human”.
In May, doctors performed the UK’s first in-womb surgery to treat a child with spina bifada.
Spina bifida is when a baby’s spine and spinal cord don’t develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.
In a three-hour operation, surgeons put the exposed section of spinal cord back in place and used a patch to cover it.
Now developing well, Sherrie Sharp said her son “makes me proud every day”.