Major medical achievements that have never been attempted before with the potential of saving lives are considered medical miracles. Rightly so, because there are millions of people in this world that suffer from conditions that have no cure and they go through life facing the eventuality of death bravely as it is not in their hands or in the doctors hands to save them.
Recently, there were two cases of a baby with a problem in the brain and a teenager with a heart condition; both of whom would not have had the chance of survival if not for the doctors that took the risk of following their heart and performing never-before performed surgeries.
We use glue to stick things together and many a time after a few days that comes off. What would happen if doctors started fixing our organs and body parts with glue?
Brain Fixed with Glue
Imagine using glue to fix a brain. That’s exactly what has been done in the rarest of rare surgeries, where doctors in America used glue to seal a 17-month-old girl’s tiny blood vessels in the brain that were a threat to her life.
This little girl, Ella-Grace Honeyman, now being called a miracle baby, was born with vein of Galen malformation, which is a condition that causes tiny holes in the blood vessels of the brain. It is an extremely rare condition that affects only a few hundred babies worldwide each year.
Doctors said the baby will not survive more than a few months, after blood rushed out of the openings, entering the tiny cavity of the skull, which caused a potentially fatal aneurysm. But because the baby was in a critical condition, doctors decided to take the risk by performing a dangerous operation, where American surgeons used a medical equivalent of Superglue to stop the bleeding.
This surgery cost more than £100,000, for which the parents received help from the local fundraisers. The treatment was done in France and the United States, because there were no surgeons who could perform this operation in Britain. The baby may need further surgery in the future, but for now she has every chance of living a perfectly healthy life.
The surgeons inserted a tube that works through remote control, which contained organic adhesive; through her groin, her stomach and heart, finally reaching the base of the brain. Then the glue was injected into the holes in an artery and damaged capillaries. This made the fluid in her skull to drain and aneurysm removed.
Britain sees about five such cases each year but there are only two hospitals; Great Ormond Street, London and Glasgow that have the capacity to deal with these cases. However, the parents were told that it would be safer and better to travel to France or the US and see experts more experienced in this surgery. Since they didn’t want to take chances with their child, they traveled and the end-result was that the baby was saved.
This aneurysm was detected just before her first birthday when she was in pain. She had her first operation in France but in an unfortunate turn of events, the surgeon died just two days after the surgery and the family headed to the US for further treatment. Doctors say that Ella-Grace still needs a lot of operations to close the rest of the openings.
While this ‘miracle baby’ is all set to visit New York next spring for her next operation, there is yet another medical miracle taking place in Miami, this time on a 14-year-old girl.
The Heartless Girl
D’Zhana Simmons the girl who says she felt like a “fake person” all those days when she had no heart in her chest, survived with the help of artificial heart pumps while her heart was taken out. She has had two heart transplants since July of last year and was heartless for four months in between transplants.
It was only last spring that she and her parents discovered that she had an enlarged heart that was too weak to pump blood sufficiently. They went to Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami for a heart transplant, but after the surgery, her new heart didn’t work properly either and there was the danger of rupture, which can lead to death. So, the doctors had to remove it after two days.
What the doctors did next has never been done before and is considered as a major medical breakthrough, especially on such a young patient. They used a pair of artificial pumps in place of her heart, to keep the blood pumping in her body until she could have her second transplant.
According to Dr. Peter Wearden, a cardiopulmonary surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, “What the Miami medical team managed to do “is a big deal.” “For more than 100 days, there was no heart in this girl’s body? This is pretty amazing.”
What is amazing about the whole thing is that; although, these pumps are used to pump blood, they have always been used with a heart still in the body to help the chambers circulate blood. Because D’Zhana’s heart was removed, doctors had to construct artificial heart chambers using a fabric and connected these chambers to the two pumps. Artificial hearts have been approved for use in adults, but not in young children.
Now after this unforgettable second transplant, this young girl will be able to do almost everything her age girls do, like going to school and going out with friends. The only thing is that she will be on medication all her life to ensure her body does not reject the donated heart. Doctors say there is a 50-50 chance that she may need another surgery before she turns 30.
There was just one other such case in the whole world, where an adult has been kept alive for nine-months without a heart, in Germany; but this is the first time ever that a child had survived in this manner for so long.
These two surgeries have created ripples in medical circles, as something like this has never been done before. Advancement in medicine has always been possible because of such doctors and patients who are willing to take the necessary risk and pave the way for the well-being of millions of others.