A BBC documentary called Spina Bifida and Me aired on Thursday 26 July and featured the preparations of UCLH and GOSH to introduce the first service providing fetal surgery for spina bifida in the UK.
Spina bifida is a congenital defect of the spine caused by an incomplete closure of the spinal column, leaving the spinal cord exposed in the womb and vulnerable to damage. One in every 1,000 pregnancies in Britain has a spine or brain defect like spina bifida and a person born with the disorder is likely to have trauma related injury, such as the inability to walk.
Ruth Madeley, an actress who has spina bifida presents the documentary, and sets on a mission to find out why she has it and whether it could have been prevented. Ruth discovers that a pioneering surgery – which will soon be offered at UCLH could mean a different future for babies diagnosed with spina bifida, by operating on them before they are even born.
Currently the only surgery offered in the UK repairs the spina bifida post birth. By operating prenatal, this could prevent further damage caused by exposure of the spinal cord in the womb.
A UCLH Charity grant, along with a GOSH grant totalled £450,000, which funded the training of the British team by a specialist team from KU Leuven in Belgium. The funds will also facilitate research and surgery for the first 10 patients.
The documentary was broadcast on BBC2 on Thursday 26 July at 9pm. You can watch it again HERE.
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