Landmark Medical Achievement: Successful Heart Repair for First-Ever Fetus Results in Healthy Birth


Landmark Medical Achievement: Successful Heart Repair for First-Ever Fetus Results in Healthy Birth

After four weeks since the groundbreaking first fetal heart intervention in Vietnam, a healthy baby boy weighing 2.9 kg was delivered with robust cries at Tu Du Hospital. The birth, carried out via cesarean section on the morning of January 30, was performed by BS.CK2 Tran Ngoc Hai, the Director of Tu Du Hospital. Remarkably, the baby, born beyond 37 weeks of pregnancy, did not require respiratory support and did not need a blood transfusion.

The baby is placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest in the cesarean room. Photo: Provided by the hospital

Expressing the joyous moment, Dr. Tran Ngoc Hai noted that the baby’s loud cries elicited tears from the entire medical team, exceeding expectations. Doctor Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, Deputy Director of Children’s Hospital 1, highlighted the seamless collaboration between the neonatal resuscitation teams of both hospitals, assessing the newborn’s health immediately after birth. Contrary to initial expectations, the baby, diagnosed with severe pulmonary valve stenosis, cried loudly upon birth, displaying a healthy and rosy appearance, and was able to breathe on his own.

Ultrasound performed in the operating room confirmed optimal blood flow through the previously narrowed area of the baby’s heart. Typically, infants with severe pulmonary valve stenosis, lacking fetal heart valve dilation intervention, may be born pale and struggle with breathing.

Dr. Huong emphasized the motivation to continue fetal interventions, recounting the poignant scene of the pregnant woman holding her healthy baby during skin-to-skin contact.

Post-birth, the baby will undergo evaluation and heart condition assessments at Children’s Hospital 1, where a congenital heart disease treatment plan will be devised.

The baby was born rosy and healthy, not turning blue and having difficulty breathing as feared. Photo: Provided by the hospital

This achievement marks one of the first two fetal heart interventions in Vietnam, a collaborative effort between doctors from Children’s Hospital 1 and Tu Du. The second woman, over 31 weeks pregnant, shows positive signs of fetal development and improved cardiovascular conditions. She has been discharged from the hospital and will undergo regular follow-up examinations.

While fetal interventions yield remarkable improvements, the procedure carries inherent risks, including hemopericardium, slow heart rate leading to cardiac arrest, premature labor, and premature rupture of membranes. Nonetheless, this technique presents an opportunity to prevent serious heart progression, as fetuses possess stem cells capable of self-repair, enhancing the chances of a healthy birth.

Tang Chi Thuong, Director of the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City, commended the complexity and precision required for fetal heart catheterization, likening the baby’s heart to a delicate strawberry. He praised the exceptional expertise and coordination between hospitals, a rarity in many provinces and cities. The technique has been nominated for the 2023 Vietnam Medical Achievement Award.

Minister of Health Dao Hong Lan expressed delight in a letter to the medical staff of both hospitals, recognizing the success of Vietnam’s first two fetal heart interventions. Minister Lan highlighted the complexity of the technique and its successful implementation in only a few countries with advanced medical systems. She urged doctors and nurses to strive for Vietnam’s recognition as a reliable destination for fetal congenital heart intervention on the global medical stage.

Le Phuong

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