|The baby, weighing 2.9kg, was born at 9:17am on Tuesday. VNA/VNS Photo
HCM CITY In a historic medical breakthrough, Việt Nam witnessed the first successful delivery of a baby over three weeks after having undergone foetal heart surgery.
At 9:17am yesterday, the baby was delivered via Caesarean section, evoking emotional responses from the medical team. This birth marks a significant milestone not only in Việt Nam, but also stands as the first instance of successful foetal heart surgery in Southeast Asia.
Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hương, Deputy Director of Children’s Hospital 1 in Hồ Chí Minh City, reported that the surgery lasted 25 minutes. Post-birth, the neonatal intensive care team from Từ Dũ Hospital and the Neonatology Department of Children’s Hospital 1 assessed the baby’s condition. Fortunately, the baby exhibited promising signs of health with an SpO2 level of 89 per cent, breathing independently.
“I have never felt such emotions in the operating room. This case is remarkable, surpassing the expectations of the medical team. The baby cried loudly upon birth,” said Hương.
Initially, doctors anticipated the need for immediate oxygen supplementation post-birth. However, direct ultrasound imaging during the surgery revealed excellent blood flow through the narrowed pulmonary artery, eliminating the immediate need for intervention in the early stages of life.
After birth, the baby will undergo continuous monitoring and evaluation at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital 1 in HCM City. Tomorrow, experts will reassess the situation and plan for the baby’s long-term treatment.
Trần Ngọc Hải, Director of Từ Dũ Hospital and the lead surgeon, highlighted the baby’s normal breathing and skin-to-skin contact with the mother after cutting the umbilical cord. The successful pregnancy reached 37 weeks and 4 days.
“Doctors were very emotional. Cases of infants without pulmonary artery valves are usually very severe, with a poor prognosis. But today, the baby was born very well. The progress of neonates will change every hour, and we will closely monitor,” explained Hải.
The mother’s determination served as motivation for the entire medical team.
“I was deeply moved when I saw the mother lying on the operating table, tears streaming down. This is the result of the mother’s courage, and her determination is the motivation for the entire team because this is the first case in Việt Nam. Although we prepared everything to ensure safety, the family’s determination and the mother’s courage were the driving force for the entire team,” said Hương.
On January 4, doctors in HCM City successfully performed fetal cardiac surgery on the baby, then a 32-week-old foetus with congenital heart defects. This marked the first instance of prenatal heart surgery in Việt Nam and Southeast Asia, making the dream of saving a child with congenital heart defects within the mother’s womb a reality for Vietnamese doctors.
According to experts, the technique of foetal heart surgery has only developed in the last five years, with successful procedures performed in Brazil and Poland.
The mother, a 28-year-old woman from Đà Nẵng, upon detecting abnormalities in the foetus’s heart, was transferred for observation to HCM City. At Từ Dũ Hospital, at 26 weeks of pregnancy, doctors decided to intervene during a critical period and went through three consultations.
By 32 weeks and five days of pregnancy, the baby’s life was at risk. Urgent consultation with Children’s Hospital 1 concluded that immediate prenatal intervention to dilate the pulmonary artery valve was necessary, or the foetus could face death in the womb. If born immediately, the baby could encounter life-threatening complications shortly after delivery.
Director of Từ Dũ Hospital emphasised that prenatal intervention is an urgent solution to save the life of a foetus still in the womb. The success rate of intervention within the womb is higher than after birth, as the foetus has a remarkable mechanism for self-healing without leaving scars, thanks to stem cells.
Large specialised hospitals in HCM City are planning to establish teams for anaesthesia in adults, prenatal intervention, cardiac catheterisation, and neonatal intensive care for emergency C-sections. These teams will be prepared to perform foetal surgery and childbirth if complications arise.
On January 4, doctors initiated foetal heart intervention at 9:05am, utilising an 18G needle for nearly 40 minutes. Subsequent ultrasound results revealed good blood flow through the foetus’s pulmonary artery valve, with no fluid leakage around the heart. The mother was safely discharged on January 8. VNS
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