Thursday, January 27, 2022 Jan 27, 2022
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Medicine

Dallas Now Has One of the Only Programs in the Country for Open Fetal Surgery

That's where they operate on babies still several months from birth.
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This is what a foot looks like when it's still months away from birth. courtesy of Cincinnati Children's Health

While reporting my October feature we published online today, I might’ve made a few people passing by my desk queasy. The story is about Dr. Timothy Crombleholme, a surgeon at Medical City Dallas Hospital. He came here earlier this year to start North Texas’ first open fetal surgery program. During open fetal surgery, doctors “exteriorize” the uterus, make an incision, and work on the fetus or the surrounding mechanics. These are babies as early as 15 weeks into gestation. You might see where this is going—somewhere along the way, I fell into a YouTube rabbit hole. A surgeon’s hand would enter this glowing red orb, a tiny leg would slide out. If you want to feel awe from something you’ll watch peeking through the fingers you’ve placed over your eyes, the clips are out there.

Or you could dive in here, where I wrote about a Texas family’s struggle through a pregnancy involving twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a potentially fatal condition that causes a blood imbalance between the two babies. The stories of Shayla and Jonathan Jones and Crombleholme converge in Colorado, at the surgeon’s previous program, for what turns into two risky operations. Read about the Joneses and about how Medical City enticed one of the premier fetal surgeons in the country to migrate to Dallas—right here.