LA doctors perform heart surgery on unborn baby after practicing with Jello and grapes
By Lauren Enriquez
Dr. Ramen Chmait, assistant professor at Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of Los Angeles Fetal Therapy
Earlier this month, the L.A. Times reported on a rare cardiac surgery which was performed on a 25-week-old fetus in utero. The procedure — a first in southern California — was necessitated by poor blood flow through the baby’s left ventricle. Because the baby’s heart was not pumping blood properly, it was likely that he or she would have been born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which is a life-threatening condition.
This video shows a clip of the ultrasound used during the surgery, during which doctors inserted a tiny tube and inflated a balloon into the baby’s heart to open up the poorly-functioning valve. To prepare for the highly specialized surgery, doctors practiced on a grape (representing the baby’s heart, which is about the size of a walnut at 25 weeks gestation) inside of Jello, which represented the baby’s body surrounding the heart.