Kiwi mum pins hopes on in-utero surgery

December 19, 2016   News

 | Source

By Catherine Gaffaney
The New Zealand Herald
Catherine Harper with husband Paul and son Jackson. Photo / Supplied

A pregnant Auckland woman is seeking to become the first Kiwi to have in-utero surgery to reduce the severity of spina bifida in her child.

Catherine Harper has flown to Brisbane with her husband, Paul for the surgery on her foetus, which is affected by the most severe form of the defect.

While the surgery has been available in the United States for years it was only performed for the first time in Australia in July this year and is not currently available in New Zealand.

"Usually termination is the main option in New Zealand, but there is still a chance you might have an amazing child," said Catherine who found out about the operation after extensive research.

The spina bifida defect is diagnosed at 18 to 20 weeks and surgery has to be done by 26 weeks, leaving a tight timeframe for the Harpers.

Catherine will be about 25 weeks pregnant when the surgery is expected to be performed on December 29. However it is currently a waiting game for the couple.

Catherine underwent a number of tests at Mater Hospital yesterday, which will be sent to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in America before the surgery is given the final go ahead.

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