Unborn Baby Undergoes Surgery Outside Womb, Placed Back Inside and Born Healthy 10 Weeks Later


There are many who think that an infant in its mother’s womb who was diagnosed with a rare heart condition would be better off snuffed out before it had a chance to begin its young life outside the womb.

However, one baby is defying the odds after undergoing surgery for a rare heart condition as he was still developing in the womb and spending 10 more weeks growing before being born.


Life News reports that little Rylan Harrison Drinnon and his mother are both doing well after the successful operation and birth.

“In May, a team of surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio performed a complex, three-hour surgery to remove a tumor from Rylan’s heart while he was still in the womb. His condition is so rare that doctors believe he is only the second person in the world to successfully undergo the surgery,” they explain.

Rylan was born on July 13, and this week, the hospital announced the success of his surgery and ongoing stable health in a press release.

Dr. Darrell Cass, director of the Cleveland Clinic Fetal Surgery and Fetal Care Center, explained that the baby boy’s rare heart defect intrapericardial teratoma with fetal hydrops, could have led to fetal heart failure if it hadn’t been addressed.

“Only one previous incidence of continued pregnancy and delivery after fetal intrapericardial teratoma resection is documented in the world’s medical literature,” he said. “As far as we know, Cleveland Clinic is the second academic medical center in the world to have performed this fetal surgery successfully with continued pregnancy and delivery.”

A tumor on the baby’s heart was “growing rapidly” and in the “exact wrong spot,” the doctor continued. He said he and his doctors “started seeing signs that the cardiac function was deteriorating” and that they “needed to act quickly and decisively to rescue the fetus.”

In May, at just 26 weeks gestation, Rylee underwent surgery which partially removed him from his mother’s womb, opened his chest, removed the tumor from his heart, and placed him back inside the uterus.

Doctors say the surgery and subsequent recovery and birth went smoothly.

“I am very proud of our talented congenital heart surgery and fetal surgery teams that integrated seamlessly to successfully perform a complex lifesaving fetal surgery,” Cass said.

“Such an innovative fetal surgery provides hope to other families who may receive a similar devastating diagnosis,” said Dr. Hani Najm, chair of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Children’s and one of the surgeons who operated on Rylee. “Clinical teams from Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Children’s are consistently collaborating and remain dedicated to innovation and teamwork to ensure our patients of all ages can feel safe when entrusting their care to us.”

Many babies diagnosed with defects on the womb are operated on in procedures that end their lives in horrific and cruel means. Rylee, on the other hand, was deemed precious and worth saving. What makes him any different?

Every life, no matter how small or what complications it might face, is precious and worth saving.

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