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Another milestone: KNH successfully transfuses 25-week-old fetus

 The transfusion procedure lasts for 30 to 60 minutes. [Courtesy KNH ]

The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has made another medical milestone after it successfully transfused a 25-week-old fetus while still in the mother’s uterus.

The medical procedure known as the Intrauterine Fetal Transfusion, is done by injecting red blood cells from a donor into the fetus. According to KNH, the medical procedure may be recommended when a fetus suffers anemia (low count of red blood cells).

KNH in a statement on Monday, July 31 said that the procedure was successful with the help of four doctors assisted by nurses in the facility.

 “The mother only has one baby, the last two died of a blood complication known as hemolytic disease of the newborn. We are indeed very determined to ensure this particular pregnancy succeeds. We hope for positive outcomes,” said Dr Rosa Chemwey.

The baby is 25 weeks and three days old.

Dr Chemwey further explained that the baby had severe anemia, meaning he/she was ‘rhesus alloimmunized’- “a situation in pregnancy when the maternal red blood cells (RBCs) lacking the rhesus antigen are exposed to rhesus-positive red blood cells through the placenta leading to the activation of the maternal immune system.”

“So the mum’s antibodies destroy the baby’s blood, which then develops into anemia over time.

According to the medics, the transfusion procedure lasts for 30 to 60 minutes and may need to be repeated weekly until the fetus is ready to be born.

The facility lauded the medics for the milestone terming it a “fetal medicine and an institutional landmark in a top premier hospital”.

The need to perform the procedure was prompted by the patient's medical history of only having one successful delivery out of four pregnancies she ever had.

Monday’s landmark adds to a list of medical milestones by KNH.

In February this year, the hospital successfully separated conjoined twins, in a 15-hour surgery.

A team of medical experts led by KNH Chief Executive Dr Evanson Kamuri said the pair, four-month-old male twins were joined at the abdomen and chest.


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