Groundbreaking surgery on an unborn baby!

By September 14, 2016Pregnancy, Surgery

We are so proud of our South African surgeons, who made history again safari attachments! This time, it was Dr Ismail Bhorat, a foetal specialist from Durban, who did a rare operation on an unborn baby.

What was wrong with the foetus?

The 6 month-old foetus had a rare condition, called ‘pericardial effusion’: a collection of fluid around the heart. The fluid compresses the heart and lungs, affecting the heart’s ability to pump, and the unborn baby’s ability to breathe.

What makes this a ground-breaking operation?

There have been previous operations on unborn babies (known as in-utero). However, this particular operation has never been done before. Dr. Bhorat and his team had to rely on their experience with other operations, and trust the skills they’ve gained through years of training.

How do you know what to do, if it hasn’t been done before?

In South Africa, our surgeons get some of the best, and most extensive training in the world. Many training surgeons from around the world, come to South Africa to get experience.

When you do enough similar operations, you learn more about the human body, and gather the skills needed. By using the base of knowledge and skills that they do have, and working closely with a dedicated team, surgeons can do new operations and move the surgical profession forward.

How did the operation go?

Dr. Bhorat and his team drained 30ml of fluid from around the heart, in what is called the ‘pericardial space’. Soon after the operation, the baby was moving normally, and kicking again.

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Now, a week-and-a-half later, the outcome seems to have been a great success!

Wasn’t it scary!?

It is quite natural for a doctor to be nervous.  However, doctors know how to channel their emotions and focus on what needs to be done.

In the words of Dr. Bhorat: “There is lots of nervousness but I think once the adrenaline kicks in, you’re really focused to actually do this. Also in the back of your mind [you think] if you’re not going to do this, the baby is going to die.”


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