Victoria’s child was operated on in her womb: “I felt pain, but also joy that something could be done with this defect”

A dozen or so years ago, children who were born with serious heart defects did not have a chance to survive. Fortunately, medical advances have made it possible to save their lives while they are still in the womb. Wiktoria and her son underwent such an operation.
Operation in the womb – what does it look like?

19-year-old Wiktora and the ground floor are expecting the birth of their first child. Until week 28, the pregnancy was normal. – My attending physician noticed swelling. He sent me for further research. After my research I found out that the swelling is most likely caused by a heart defect. It was a surprise, I didn’t know anything about it – recalled Wiktoria.

Victoria’s child has a rare genetic defect – valvular aortic stenosis, i.e. aortic stenosis. This means that the valve in the heart is narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow out of the left ventricle. In such cases, it is necessary to operate on the child while still in the womb. – I felt sad, pain, but I also felt joy that there is a chance that something can be done about this defect – said the 19-year-old girl.

It is a very complicated procedure involving the widening of the heart valve with a special balloon. – Centers that perform this type of treatment are few in the world – emphasized prof. Mirosław Wielgoś, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, perinatologist, UCZKiN, Medical University of Warsaw. – These operations are absolutely amazing because we are dealing with two patients. The mother I see is lying there, I am talking to her because my mother is awake and awake. I look into her eyes and I know that in a moment I will be crammed into her child’s heart – added prof. Marzena Dębska, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, perinatologist, UCZKiN MUW.

After administering anesthesia, the doctor, under ultrasound guidance, inserts a needle through the mother’s abdomen. He carries it to the baby’s chest and heart. Warsaw doctors introduce a special catheter through the needle, i.e. a tube with a balloon. The balloon expands and widens the narrowed valve, thus restoring the proper functioning of the heart. It is worth adding that the heart of such a small child is the size of a 50 groszy coin.

– It is all very difficult. The needle must be in the right place. It must be motionless in the heart, which is working all the time – explained Prof. Dębska. – It requires a lot of knowledge, precision and experience – noted prof. Many.

– When I saw prof. Dębska above me, who was very supportive, hugged me and said that the operation was successful. It cannot be described in words – said Wiktoria. Even though Wiktoria and her son are doing well, one more operation in the womb and several procedures performed after the birth will be necessary.

– For me, each saved life is a great success. The most beautiful thing is when I can approach the patient and say: “Wiktoria, the surgery was successful” and I can see tears of happiness – summed up prof. Dębska.

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How often are such operations performed?

In Poland, such procedures are still too few. Why?

– This is, of course, a complex problem, a complex matter. (…) Of course, a matter of equipment, but equipment can always be obtained by some inhuman effort, but it can be done. Experience is more important, and the fact that there are not many of these surgeries – we would like them not to happen at all, because we operate on sick children. If there is this disease, this defect, if they exist, then we primarily care to detect it. So prenatal diagnosis is something we are fighting for. It has worked well in our country so far and we hope it will continue to function. I hope no one will prevent this from happening – said prof. Mirosław Wielgoś.

However, it should be emphasized that not all heart defects in children are treated in this way. – Most of them do not require intrauterine treatment because they are stable defects that do not affect the development of the fetus and the baby can be treated after birth, or they are so complex that they cannot be treated intrauterine because they require opening the chest and performing complicated procedures – said prof. Marzena Dębska. What heart defects in a baby can be treated while still in the womb? You will learn about it later in our conversation.

source: Dzien DObry TVN program

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