An expecting mother recently revealed that her unborn baby was removed from her womb for a treatment before being put back in for the remaining duration of the pregnancy.

Bethan Simpson said that during her routine 20-week scan, she found out that her unborn baby’s head was not having the right measurement. After the scan, the woman was sent to Broomfield Hospital in Essex, England, where the baby was diagnosed with spina bifida — a condition where a baby’s spinal cord doesn’t fully develop in the womb, leaving a gap in it. The condition can hamper the child’s ability to walk.

Simpson and her husband were told their first option was to terminate the pregnancy but their midwife made an appointment with another hospital in London, where doctors confirmed the child's condition. 

The couple was offered to continue with the pregnancy, ending it or an entirely new option, that of a fetal surgery, which meant fixing the baby before she was born. “We had to do it. We also had to meet some seriously strict criteria. Baby and I went through amniotic fluid tests, MRIs and relentless scans. We got approved and we planned for surgery. Our lives were such a rollercoaster for the next few weeks,” Simpson, 25, said.

The surgery involved removing the baby from Simpson’s womb and repairing the spinal cord so as to give the baby a chance to lead a normal life. Once the surgery was done, the baby was placed back into the womb for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Simpson is due to deliver in April and had the surgery done at the 24th week of her pregnancy. She said 80 percent of the babies diagnosed with this condition in England were terminated when their parents find out about it.

“It’s not a death sentence. She has the same potential as every one of us. Yes there are risks of things going wrong but please think more about spina bifida, it’s not what it used to be,” she said.

It was a success, making Simpson only the fourth woman in the United Kingdom to have the surgery done. Specialists from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London performed the surgery on the mother and the baby. Initially, the procedure was carried out only in Belgium by a team of British and Belgian surgeons.

In October, another unborn baby from Scotland was diagnosed with the same defect and his parents frantically looked for a surgeon who could fix the issue. Through research, they found out about the procedure and approached Prof. Jan Deprest from Belgium who pioneered the surgery and even trained many other surgeons.

The surgery had to be done within the first 26 weeks of the pregnancy and the couple, Amanda and Benjamin Somers, flew to Belgium for the surgery. It was performed on Oct. 30, 2018, and seven weeks later, the baby was born. Judging by his leg movements and reflexes, doctors in both Scotland and Belgium said they were confident that the baby will be able to bear his own weight.