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Foetus saves his mother’s life in extraordinary case

A foetus has saved his mother’s life and his own, by covering a rupture in her uterus with his back, allowing himself to be born healthy and the mother to survive.

In a medical case from Lille that has delighted France, the news originally came from The European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, and was recently publicised in the national press by doctor and Le Monde newspaper journalist, Marc Gozlan.

The case came to light after a 31-year-old woman was admitted to hospital in Lille, north east France, suffering from severe stomach pain while eight and a half months’ pregnant.

With the woman having had a caesarean section in 2013 at seven months in a previous pregnancy due to an abnormal foetal heartbeat, doctors were quick to check her thoroughly.

This time, the foetus’ heartbeat was fine; the woman was not in labour, and everything looked OK with the baby. Doctors even did a heart scan, to check the woman was not suffering from a tear in her aorta or similar.

The final diagnosis, however, was simple: she had suffered a uterine rupture: a tear in the lining of her uterus, a medical emergency forcing an emergency cesarean.

Doctors then discovered that up until the mother’s pain, everything had appeared normal, because the baby himself had acted like a ‘vacuum-like suction cup’, positioning his back over the uterus tear and stopping his mother from suffering a potentially life-threatening hemorrhage.

Similarly, his back position ensured the amniotic fluid had not leaked, and the umbilical cord had not been compressed, ensuring that his own growth and health had been protected too.

The baby boy was then born healthy by caesarean section, with no birth complications. He was born with a large blister on his back where it had acted as a vacuum, but this was reabsorbed back into his body after a few hours, doctors said.

Speaking in Le Monde, the lead doctor Dr Charles Garabedian, obstetrician at the Jeanne de Flandre hospital in Lille, called the case “extraordinary”, with the baby having managed to completely avoid any foetal or medical problems up until that point.

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