Hadassah Surgeons Save 28-Week-Old Fetus


For the first time in Israel, an interdisciplinary team of Hadassah Medical Organization doctors performed an aortic balloon valvuoplasty in utero, a risky and delicate procedure, to save the life of a 28-week old fetus with a severe heart defect. The operation, which took place at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, widened the fetus’ aorta and is almost identical to an adult catheterization.

Ellen Hershkin, National President, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. says, “HMO’s brilliant medical teams continue to provide Israel with the most innovative, life-saving surgical procedures.  We take great pride in the talent, commitment and ingenuity of our surgeons who solidify HMO’s reputation as a world-class research and medical facility.”

The HMO surgical team was led by Dr. Azaria Rein, Director, Pediatric Cardiology, and included Dr. Sagi Gavrim, Director, Pediatric Catheterization Services; Dr. Yuval Gielchinsky, Head, Obstetrics Medicine; Dr. Simcha Yagel, Director, Obstetrics & Gynecology; obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Nili Yanai and anesthesiologist Dr. Carolyn Weiniger, among others.

Dr. Rein, a world-renowned authority on embryonic birth defects, says: “The diagnosis was a critical narrowing of the aortic valve which was also accompanied by severe damage to the function of the left ventricle, which was barely able to contract.  The baby’s parents knew that without treatment, the left ventricle would likely degenerate and not be able to transfer blood to the baby’s body after birth.

Dr. Gielchinsky adds: “In the process of catheterization, under epidural anesthesia for the mother and anesthesia for the fetus as well, we inserted a very delicate needle through the mother’s abdominal wall directly to the left ventricle of the fetal heart.  It was a complex and delicate procedure that required maximum concentration and precision.”

Dr. Sagi passed a narrow wire through the needle to the aorta, through the valve with a balloon that was inflated to enlarge the aorta.

Dr. Gavri notes that “The operation went without complication.  Immediately after the operation, we saw an improvement in blood flow through the valve.  In a repeat fetal echocardiography the morning after the surgery, it appears that the function of the left ventricle in the fetal heart has improved. Significantly.”

Dr. Gielchinsky summarizes: “We are so proud that Hadassah Medical Organization was the first hospital in Israel to perform this rare procedure which is done in only a few centers around the world.  We are now trailblazers in the field of embryology and cardiology.”

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.  is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With 330,000 members, associates and supporters Hadassah brings Jewish women together to effect change and advocate on critical issues such as medical care and research and women’s empowerment.  Through the Hadassah Medical Organization’s two hospitals, the world-renowned trauma center and the leading research facility in Jerusalem, Hadassah supports the delivery of exemplary patient care to over a million people every year. HMO serves without regard to race, religion or nationality and earned a Nobel Peace Prize Nomination in 2005 for building “bridges to peace” through equality in medical treatment. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org.


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