Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 18 October |
The Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist
Aleteia logo
home iconNews
line break icon

Heart surgery on fetus performed for first time in Ohio

Whitetherock Photo/Shutterstock

Zelda Caldwell - published on 03/20/17 - updated on 06/08/17

Prenatal procedure gives unborn child a chance at life.

On February 22, a 29-week-old fetus became the first patient in Ohio to undergo a prenatal heart procedure.

Stephanie Hartman’s baby was given a grim prognosis after a heart defect called “left-heart syndrome” was detected. Only 10 percent of babies with this condition survive past six months. In this case, the fetus was already suffering from heart failure due to the additional complication of a leaky mitral valve.

While the procedure, called an aortic valvuloplasty, is usually performed after birth, doctors recommended operating in utero to increase the fetus’ chance of surviving birth and thriving afterwards.

“We wanted to do anything we could to help him,” Hartman, told The Columbus Dispatch. “Knowing how bad it was, I thought it pretty much was our only hope.”

The procedure involved inserting a tiny balloon into the aortic valve to allow the left ventricle to pump blood. Both mother and fetus received anesthesia before physicians inserted a needle through the mother’s abdomen into the uterus, and then into the left ventricle of the fetus’ heart. A balloon was then fed through the needle and then expanded to open the aortic valve.

Dr. Aimee Armstrong, director of cardiac catheterization and international therapies at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, called the procedure a success.

Armstrong told The Columbus Dispatch that the surgical team was in the fetal heart for about five minutes. All signs of heart failure disappeared as the valve opened, the left ventricle began to pump better, and the leaky mitral valve improved.

“There’s still a long road ahead,” Armstrong said. “But we hope that this gives him a better chance at surviving and being healthy and being more stable at birth.”

Stephanie Hartman’s baby is due on May 9.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
A scientist describes the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima
Agnès Pinard Legry
Three brothers ordained priests on the same day in the Philippine...
Cerith Gardiner
Archbishop gives little girl a beautiful response about why God a...
difficult people
Zoe Romanowsky
How to love people you don’t really like
Margaret Rose Realy, Obl.OSB
The ‘Tree of Death’ haunts many a cemetery
Philip Kosloski
How the violence in ‘Squid Game’ can impact your soul
Larry Peterson
This is the only officially recognized Marian apparition in the U...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.