Canadian Baby Saved By First-of-Its-Kind Fetal Heart Surgery

Maureen Collins | July 27, 2017
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Kristin Barry of Ontario received some terrifying news when she went in for her baby's 20-week ultrasound. 

Her son suffered from a rare heart condition called transposition of the great arteries (TGA), meaning two of his main arteries were swapped, and blood was actually flowing out of his tiny heart.

"It felt like the world was crashing around me, and that I couldn’t believe that this was happening to my baby," said Barry. 

She and her husband, Christopher, discussed their options with the team at Canada's Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital. They agreed to have doctors insert a stent into the baby's heart in utero -- something that had never been tried before. 

A team of 30 doctors had three minutes to insert a needle through Barry's abdomen into the baby's heart, then inflate a small balloon to open up blood flow. Though the risks were obviously huge, Kristin said, "I knew that that’s what we had to do. I was willing to do whatever for my baby to give him a chance."

The operation was successful, and received applause in the operating room. Five days later, little Sebastian Havill was born, and immediately underwent a successful open heart surgery to fix his arteries. 

Now, Sebastian is expected to lead a normal, active childhood. He can thank doctors Greg Ryan, Rajiv Chaturvedi and Edgar Jaeggi for saving his life. The three doctors now say they're hopeful that this surgery can help save other babies with similar heart conditions.

"This is a procedure that has got quite wide applicability in other cardiac centers around the world," said Chaturvedi. 

Barry said her son Sebastian is already changing the world, saying, "It makes me so proud of him that he took so well to the procedure and opened up doors for other babies." 

Fetal surgery is advancing very quickly in places like Canada and the United States. More and more babies like Sebastian will be saved by doctors before they are even born! Science is amazing. 

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