Contact Gènéthique reports that, Spanish doctors on 13 March 2012, announced that they had carried out an operation in utero on the lung of a foetus aged 26 weeks and weighing 800 grammes with a bronchial obstruction. The little girl was born eleven weeks later. Now aged 16 months, she is in good health.
Eduard Gratacos, head of the foetal medicine department of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, said that "this is the first time in the world that such an operation has been attempted and succeeded."
The bronchial atresia that he foetus was suffering from was life-threatening: developing abnormally, the lung "behaved like a tumour" liable to compress the heart and provoke cardiac arrest. Affecting one foetus out of 10,000, this genetic malformation leads in 90% of cases to the death of the foetus or the new-born child.
The operation took less than 30 minutes. The doctors carried out an endoscopy to reach the point of obstruction in the bronchial tubes which they perforated by laser before "reconnecting them" in the bronchial tree. It was an extremely delicate operation as the tissue involved is as "fine as cigarette paper". The diseased lung was thus reduced to the normal size. The child was born some time later and was treated without complication for a slight respiratory insufficiency.