Delivering Half a Baby Saves a Life

FRESNO, Calif.

Enjoying an afternoon snack is a major milestone for Anna Robinson.

"This is huge," Susan Robinson told Ivanhoe. "This is a special bottle that helps me squeeze milk into her mouth, so she can swallow."

But Anna was amazing her mother even before she was born. Halfway through the pregnancy, doctors spotted large fluid-filled tumors wrapped around the baby's neck. She wouldn't be able to breathe outside of the womb.

"Into the delivery, we were prepared for the worst," Susan recalled. "I mean my husband and I knew that when we showed up that day that might be the last day that she was alive, so we knew as we said goodbye, I would go to sleep, and maybe, I would not see her alive."

A team of 20 doctors at Tampa General Hospital packed an OR to do an EXIT procedure. It's a C-section where they only deliver the baby's head, one shoulder, and one hand.

"So, the baby's still remaining on the support of the umbilical cord and placenta while part of the baby's still out," Valerie E. Whiteman, MD maternal fetal medicine at Tampa General Hospital/USF in Tampa, Fla., explained.

While the baby's still receiving oxygen from the mother, the team has a 90-minute window to put a tube down the baby's throat and open up an airway.

"With this circumstance, it took us seven minutes to secure the airway and then proceed with the rest of the delivery," Dr. Whiteman said.

Other surgeries followed to remove the rest of the Anna's tumors. Doctors say her future looks bright.

"She is beautiful, just the most adorable, sweetest baby you ever met," Susan said.

A baby who has beat the odds before she took her first breath.

Anna may need speech therapy because of the scar tissue near her vocal chords, but doctors say she's meeting all of her developmental milestones. The team of doctors spent more than two months planning for the innovative procedure. The EXIT approach can be used for babies with many congenital upper airway obstruction lesions.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Ellen Fiss
Public Relations Manager
Tampa General Hospital
Tampa, FL
(813) 844-6397
efiss@tgh.org

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