A mother-to-be had potentially life-saving surgery that will lower the chances of her child being born with brain damage.
Jaiden Ashlea, 23, said she was shocked when her son, Levi James, was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, a spinal condition which, in the most serious cases, sees the spinal cord and surrounding nervous push through the vertebrae bones in the back, meaning the bone is protruding.
Suffers could face paralysis in the legs or incontinence.
‘I was in shock,’ says Jaiden, who shared her story on social media.
‘I couldn’t even speak when the doctor was telling us this.
‘I remember saying to myself, “this isn’t real, this isn’t happening”.
‘It was a nightmare.’
Initially, Jaiden was advised to have an abortion because her baby would be born brain dead.
But she and her fiance, fiancé Noah Detrick, also 23, then found the Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando which agreed to perform a rare operation on the unborn baby.
Dr Samer Elbabaa, head of foetal surgery at the hospital, said the operation was ‘not a cure’.
However, it doubled the chance of Levi James walking normally and reduced the risk of brain damage.
So, at 24 weeks, Jaiden underwent a six hour surgery which saw doctors make a five to 10cm incision into the uterus following a C-section, through which they repaired the baby’s back.
Shortly afterwards Jaiden said she could feel her son kicking again and twisting his ankles around.
‘[There has been] so much more movement and signs of any malformation in his brain are reversing,’ she told the New York Post.
‘He’s kicking his legs, and twisting his ankles in there. I can feel him moving.’
Now at 27 weeks, Jaiden plans to deliver her son via C-section in another 10 weeks.
After the operation, Jaiden was checked into the Ronald McDonald House in Orlando, which provides healthcare for families in need.
In a TikTok shared by Jaiden following the procedure, Jaiden says she has since been discharged from the hospital.
She explains that in the Spina Bifida community it’s common to use the term ‘twice born’ when referring to a child who went through the procedure.
‘His body was shown to the world and…my waters actually broke,’ she says.
She went on to say she felt ‘blessed’ for being able to go through with the procedure.
She says: ‘We’re very grateful and blessed to have been approved for the surgery because not everybody does.’
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