Every so often, you hear a medical story which truly makes you think 'wow, we are living in the future.' And a particularly incredible example of this happened in the UK this week.
A pregnant woman's scan revealed her unborn child to have a condition called spina bifida. It's a condition effecting a baby's spinal cord, and can leave a sufferer unable to walk. After first being given the option to terminate her pregnancy, doctors offered the mother a new and unusual option, called fetal surgery.
The procedure, in which the baby is operated on before being returned to the womb for the remainder of the pregnancy, had so far only been carried out in Belgium. But given the opportunity to save their child's life before they were even born, these parents thought they had to go for it. The innovative procedure was carried out University College Hospital Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, with this procedure being only the fourth to go ahead in the UK.
A pregnancy is a pretty magical thing.
via: ShutterstockThink about it - a woman grows a whole new life inside her, basically converting food into a human being, If it was in a sci-fi film, you'd think it was a little far-fetched.
So, we've established pregnant women are essentially walking miracles.
via: ShutterstockAlthough from common parlance this "miracle" can involve a lot more insomnia, vomiting, aches and pains than you may expect.
That is to say, pregnancy is rarely a walk in the park.Alongside the physical act of creating life, there are a ton of extra, external pressures that can come alongside expecting.
Telling people, for instance, can be no piece of cake.Plus, pregnancy (and parenthood) can be hugely stressful, expensive, and anxiety-inducing. It's certainly not for the faint of heart.
But there's another aspect of pregnancy-stress which eclipses the rest.
via: ShutterstockThe idea that your baby may be unhealthy or require medical intervention can seem like a total nightmare for expectant mothers (and, indeed, fathers).
Medical advancements can be truly incredible these days.
via: ShutterstockBut it still doesn't make the idea of potential risks to your unborn child feel any easier for those experiencing it.
All expecting parents want is a happy, healthy baby.The idea of anything standing in the way of that can be horrifically scary, even in the wake of new and innovative treatments.
Such was the reality faced by one expectant mother.
But Simpson's pregnancy wasn't as straightforward as she'd hoped.
via: ShutterstockDuring a routine twenty-week scan, results showed that Simpson's baby was not developing as it should be. The child's head was shown to be not at the right size.
Simpson received some potentially worrying news.
via: ShutterstockHer unborn child had a condition known as spina bifida. It's a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal membranes don't fully form over the spinal cord.
Those born with spina bifida typically face multiple complications.
via: ShutterstockMany are permanent unable to walk, plus face significantly decreased life expectancy. It wasn't what Simpson had hoped for for her child.
Simpson and her husband were given some options.
via: ShutterstockSimpson told the Daily Mirror, "With that we were told our little girl had spina bifida. We were offered continuing pregnancy, ending pregnancy or a new option called fetal surgery - fixing her before she is born. We had to do it. We also had to meet some seriously strict criteria."
Fetal surgery is an extremely innovative procedure.When Simpson was told about it, it had only been successfully performed in Belgium. The most skilled surgeons from across Europe were called upon to help with the operation.
Preparing and undergoing the operation was anything but easy.
The operation took place at twenty four weeks.It took place at University College Hospital Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, with some of the leading surgeons from both the UK and Belgium operating.
Understandably, Simpson was nervous.
The operation sounds somewhat fantastical.
The brave mum-to-be shared her story on Facebook.
Simpson did not want to end her pregnancy, as was thrilled there was another option.
Thankfully, the operation went perfectly.
Simpson shared images on Facebook.
Simpson's baby is now totally healthy.The baby, who's a girl, is now safely back in Simpson's womb, where she'll remain until her birth in April this year.
Simpson is glad to have had support through this trying time.
This story is truly incredible.In a world that so often dominated by bad news, it's amazing to hear a story with a happy ending - especially one so important to many people's lives.
The internet had a similarly positive reaction.
This is Bethan Simpson. She was 20-weeks pregnant when she learned her baby had spina bifida. She was given the o… https://t.co/DhQj05KX6e— Muhammad Lila (@Muhammad Lila)1549962385.0