The Miracle of Science As Mom & Baby Survive Against All Odds After Undergoing Open Fetal Surgery

Open fetal surgery is a complex and challenging procedure; it’s a serious decision to move forward with it, for any condition. It requires a pediatric neurosurgeon with a high level of experience and even then still poses risks for both mother and baby.

For Spenser and Jessica Trinkle, their baby, Parker, is a miracle. Last fall, expectant mother Jessica Trinkle went in for her routine OB exam and ultrasound check-up.

At just 23 and a half weeks pregnant, Jessica was given news that would make any parent-to-be frightened and worried — her son had a lesion on his spinal cord.

Doctors eventually diagnosed the baby with Spina Bifida. This diagnosis led to a rare, nerve-wracking operation where the lesion is corrected while the baby is still in-utero.

Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect that is associated with life in the United States. It’s a type of neural tube defect (NTD) that occurs when a babies neural tube fails to develop or close properly – the literal meaning for Spina Bifida is “split spine.”

READ ALSO: How To Prevent the Risk of Spina Bifida During Pregnancy

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Fetal spina bifida surgery is shown to offer significantly better results than traditional repair after birth. Because spinal cord damage is progressive during gestation, prenatal repair of myelomeningocele may prevent further damage.

Jessica says she spent countless hours searching her son’s diagnosis, even though doctors warned her against it.

“In the midst of searching for any ounce of hope, I then came across myelomenigocele, a form of Spina Bifida that allows mothers to undergo open fetal surgery to prevent further damage.”

Through Facebook, Jessica found a parenting support group for moms with children diagnosed with spina bifida. Amazingly, the mom in charge of the group happened to live in her town, and had also undergone open fetal surgery to repair her child’s spine.

Her baby’s surgery (and others in the group) had been successful—and this gave Jessica reassurance.

Jessica, along with her husband and their two-year-old daughter traveled to Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies for an in-utero surgery on their son for the repair of myelomeningocele.

READ ALSO: See Why UK Mum,Bethan Simpson Opted For Groundbreaking Fetal Surgery

The couple was told this was the fourth Spina Bifida surgery done in the Orlando hospital, but their doctor performing the surgery had already done 60 surgeries at other hospitals.

With support from her husband and daughter, she was able to carry Parker to 37 weeks without complications.

“The surgery itself was extensive and consisted of a team of more than 13 doctors and nurses. Together our surgeons made about a 10-inch incision into my abdomen, which is then followed by about a 5-inch incision into the uterus. Mock amniotic fluids are also infused constantly into the uterus to keep the fluid levels safe for Parker and me.”

During the surgery, Parker’s back and bottom were exposed and repaired while he was still in the womb. After the surgery was complete, the uterus is closed again. It’s a terrifying yet miraculous medical procedure — and a lot to process, both mentally and physically.

After the successful surgery, Jessica was given strict instructions on what she needed to do for the remainder of her pregnancy in order for Parker to make it to full-term.

She spent three weeks in Orlando, away from her home and everything familiar to her, recovering from the surgery.

Parker was delivered on February 6th via C-section. Jessica says she’s incredibly grateful to the medical team who worked together throughout her pregnancy to ensure Parker’s delivery was as seamless as possible.

“I was so thankful that all these people in the room invested their time and knowledge into my son in helping give my son the best possible outcome in life”.

READ ALSO: 8 Reasons You Must Take Folic Acid Before & During Pregnancy

According to Spenser and Jessica, out of almost 80 fetal surgeries that their neurosurgeon has done for Spina Bifida, Parker would rank in the top 5% of outcomes after birth.

“Movement is weak in his legs [right now],” they said,  “but at this rate who knows what else our little guy is capable of.”

Even though the experience was stressful, the outcome of this surgery was everything Jessica and Spenser had hoped for.

Parker is now a month old, and, according to his mom, continues to thrive.

“Today little man is 1 month and in that month our world has changed. Although at times that change has been overwhelming, I can honestly say he has made this family stronger than I ever knew possible. Of course I wish I could say my son was perfectly healthy and didn’t have “special needs,” yet at the same time, I’ve come to realize: he is just that special.

“He is just like any other newborn baby, loves to eat, sleep and poo. From the outside looking in you would never be able to tell anything was different about him.”

Jessica shares Parker’s journey on the Facebook page Positively Parker. Jessica hopes by sharing her family’s story, it’ll benefit any other family experiencing a similar diagnosis or situation. She says life is like a book that should never be judge by its cover.

“Take the time to read between the lines and find comfort in knowing it is love that matters most.”

“Being parents to a miracle is knowing that every day is a blessing & gift; it means cherishing every moment, every breath with such intensity that you feel tears come to your eyes for no apparent reason.”

Jessica, Spenser, Aria, and Parker were all photographed by EBU Photography for one sweet set of newborn photos.

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