Rare Fetal Surgery Repairs Baby's Birth Defect

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A couple in Dallas is calling their newborn infant "a miracle baby."

Colette Hagler's daughter Faith was born twice - once during a C-section and three months earlier when doctors had to repair a spinal cord defect.

In a rare five-hour operation performed while baby Faith was still in her mother's womb, surgeons managed to successfully repair the spina bifida defect.

According to the National Institutes of Health, spina bifida "is a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth."

"I knew this was a major surgery but again, when you want the best outcome for the child, you do what you have to do," Hagler said.

A new study shows that when the spinal cord is repaired before birth, half of those children avoid major complications.

"Some of the damage that results from spina bifida as the baby's developing neurologically can either be slowed down or potentially reversed," fetal surgeon Dr. Kuojen Tsao explained.

Dr. Amir Khan, medical director for the Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital NICU, said Faith is "weeks or months healthier" than a baby with her condition would be without the surgery.

"My hope and my belief is that we won't even be able to tell that anything was ever wrong," Faith's mom said.

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