A FAMILY'S CHOICE - EXPERIMENTAL FETAL SURGERY
Jennifer and Will Breckenridge
decide to undergo experimental fetal surgery in her 32nd week of pregnancy,
the latest in pregnancy this surgery had ever been performed. Jennifer
is about 30 weeks pregnant with a fetus who has congenital diaphramatic hernia
(CDH). During surgery, a balloon is inserted in the baby's trachea, trapping
fluid and causing the lungs to grow. Baby Breckenridge's CDH is severe
according to one doctor, had a 20 % chance of survival. Jennifer will have
to remain in or near the hospital until Garyn's exit procedure, when the
balloon will be removed. The hope is that her lungs would have grown, that
soon she would have the surgery to repair her diaphragm and slowly develop
enough strength to go home.
Garyn survived the birth but died 16 days later.
Garyn's muscle separating the chest and abdominal cavities, the diaphragm, did not completely form resulting in the defect. The hole in the diaphragm allows organs (stomach, intestine, liver) to move up into the chest and compress the lung preventing its growth and expansion. The surgery for CDH babies involves a tiny ballon the size of a grain of rice to be inserted into the baby's throat where fluid is prevented from escaping and makes the lung size larger so when the baby is born will have enough lung capacity to provide oxygen for her. This experimental procedure has never been done as late as this but the doctor's feel that the lung could benefit from as little as two weeks of this treatment and if born at that time will not have the problems of a very early premature birth that some of the previous fetal surgeries with CDH had.