Australian surgeons are being credited for saving the leg of an unborn baby by operating on her while her mother was just 22 weeks pregnant, French news agency AFP is reporting.
The hospital told AFP Monday that this may be the earliest in utero surgery of its kind.
Baby Leah was diagnosed with a condition called amniotic band syndrome in which bands of tissue wrap themselves around a developing fetus' limbs, hands or feet and cut off blood flow. Doctors say the tissue had wrapped around both Leah's legs.
A hospital spokeswoman told AFP that doctors usually hold off on operating until 28 weeks of pregnancy to better the baby's chances for survival. However, Leah risked losing both legs if doctors had waited in this case.
To operate, surgeons pierced the mother's abdomen with a two-millimeter or 0.08-inch thick telescopic needle to allow them to apply laser and electric current to cut the band above the baby's left foot. The right foot went untouched because of the severity in which it was wrapped.
Leah was born in January and despite the damage to her right leg, doctors now believe they can save it and that she will be able to walk.