New DelhI: India has become the fifth country in the world to have a facility for Open Foetal Surgery after Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda unveiled the first such facility in Asia at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi.
Open Foetal Surgery entails, taking the baby with birth defects out of mother's womb, doing surgery and putting back inside the womb. The pregnancy is allowed to continue. Later a Cesarean section is done and the baby is delivered.
This prevents the damage that would have occurred to the baby in the uterus before delivery and helps in obtaining normal baby.
The economic cost of a miscarriage or a child with birth defect is immense, besides its impact on the parents. For working mothers, pregnancy means loss of job or income and cannot even think of multiple pregnancies.
Only the USA, France, Spain amongst the developed countries and Brazil amongst the developing countries have this facility as of now.
"Some of you may be thinking why we need to go for foetal care, especially, in an over populated country like India. To answer that, we have to look back to history or mythological scriptures. Abhimanu learned how to crack into Chakravyooha listening to his father Arjuna when he was still inside the womb of his mother. In Bible it is written that John the Baptist jumped with joy inside the womb of his mother Elizabeth when Mary the mother of Jesus visited her. Yes, babies are persons with intelligence and emotions. They have right to be treated like any other children like you and me," said Dr. Mohan Abraham, Head of Foetal Medicine at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre.
He added that many of these conditions, like Twin to twin transfusion syndrome, amniotic band syndrome in which amniotic band winds around the finger or limb of the foetus leading to intrauterine amputation and baby being born with absent fingers or limbs. These bands can be easily divided foetoscopically with laser in the intra uterine period and the limb can be salvaged. Myelomeningocele that produces paralysis with incontinence of urine and stool can be operated upon foetoscopically with minimal morbidity to the mother.
"Conditions like Sacrococcygeal teratoma, lung cyst and tumours which will lead to the death of the baby and sometimes even the mother, needs open foetal surgery. Here the uterus is opened, baby partially taken out, operated upon and put back in the womb and pregnancy is allowed to continue. Elective Caesarean is done 10 to 12 weeks later to deliver the baby," he noted.
The Centre for Excellence in Foetal Care has all the required support system under its wings - experts from the fields of foetal medicine and perinatology, foetal cardiology, paediatric genetics, human cytogenetics foetal surgery, and biochemistry.