Orlando Health Celebrates Five Years of Successful Endouterine Surgery – WFTV


ORLANDO, FL — Orlando Health has been assisting mothers and fetuses with intrauterine surgery for five years.

Over Mother’s Day weekend, the hospital celebrated the fifth anniversary of the fetal laparotomy with patients and their families.

This surgery repairs spinal defects caused by the fetus during early pregnancy.

The hospital has operated on 36 mothers and fetuses in Florida, Puerto Rico, Alabama and Hawaii.

Dr. Summer Elbaba is Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. He is happy to celebrate another year in the surgery program.

“We are thrilled to celebrate five amazing years of our Fetal Surgery Program and to reunite with the many privileged mothers and babies we care for,” Elbabaa said.

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The fetal surgery program began when Dr. Elbaba joined the team, and he has performed over 100 of these surgeries in his career.

“We average 13,000 births per year and this program truly meets a critical need here in Central Florida and across the country,” Elbabaa added.

Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies is the first hospital in Florida to offer this procedure.

Channel 9’s investigative reporter Carla Ray covered how the surgery was first performed in central Florida in 2017.

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Fetal surgery is not a cure for spinal defects. However, studies have shown that it improves children’s mobility and leg function.

Emily and Eric Ziegler are from Lakeland and are part of a family that recently underwent surgery at Orlando Health.

Their son Chance was “born twice” in 2021. He is now walking without assistance.

Chance’s mother said she remembered doctors telling him Chance couldn’t walk because he had a spinal condition.

“The fact that he was able to walk convinced me that fetal surgery was the right choice,” Ziegler said.

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Expectant mothers should be screened to see if this surgery is the best option for them.

In this operation, a maternal and child medicine doctor opens the mother’s womb to expose the baby’s spine so that the fetal surgeon can repair the spine.

Dr. Cole Graves is director of complex fetal care at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer and co-director of the Center for Fetal Care. He is happy to celebrate this anniversary as his Mother’s Day is near.

“The mothers who operated on our fetuses are the very protagonists of this story. That’s what we do,” Graves said.

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Children who have undergone fetal surgery for spinal disorders will continue to receive multidisciplinary care through the Leon Pediatric Neuroscience Center of Excellence at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer.

If you want to know more about fetal surgery, click here.

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