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Charlie's Amniotic Band Survivor Story 


One look at tiny Charlie is enough to confirm that this baby is at once both a miracle and spectacularly ordinary.

     Charlie and his mother, Molly of south St. Louis, were the first surgical patients of the SSM Health St. Louis Fetal Care Institute.  Charlie is a miracle because St. Louis Fetal Care Institute surgeons used fetoscopic surgery to remove an amniotic band wrapped around his right leg in the womb. At the same time, he is ordinary because he now has the same chance to grow and play that is afforded to so many other children. 

     The operation was performed at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - St. Louis on June 18, 2009, when Charlie was at 24 weeks gestation.  Amniotic bands restrict blood flow, sometimes resulting in amputation or severe deformity of the affected limb. When the amniotic band was severed with a laser in surgery, Charlie’s leg immediately went from purple to pink, an indication that adequate blood flow had been restored.  He was born 10 weeks after the surgery, and spent three weeks in the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital NICU before going home with his mother.

"We were ready to drive to Ohio for this surgery if we had to, but we’re really thankful that we were able to do it here," Molly said.

Pre-Post Surgery

"The team makes you feel really comfortable and answers all your questions, and the doctors clearly have a lot of knowledge and confidence.  They are all good at explaining what they were going to do for me and my baby, and that made me feel very comfortable with having the surgery done."     

Many of the procedures offered by the team at the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute are fetoscopic, meaning that surgeons can use tiny scopes to do fetal surgery. 

For some fetal problems, however, the womb has to be opened to perform fetal surgery and then closed so the pregnancy may continue. This is performed at only six sites nationwide.  Cardinal Glennon is one of the only providers of this service in Missouri or Illinois; the next-closest site is in Cincinnati.

 Charlie's surgery was a success.

No matter the distance traveled, Molly says she is grateful to have her baby healthy and whole.

"All I want for my baby now is that he grows up to be healthy and happy, to have the same chances that every other child has," Molly says "Thanks to the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute, he has an opportunity for a great future."

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