Children's Hospital Colorado

Couple Turns to Fetal Surgery at Children's Hospital Colorado to Save Daughter's Life

The Denver Post | July 06, 2015
Ariel Gilstrap holding 14-month-old Emma (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)
Ariel Gilstrap holding 14-month-old Emma (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

While 20 weeks pregnant with their first child, Mark and Ariel Gilstrap of Lehi, Utah, discovered through a routine ultrasound that their daughter, Emma, would be born with myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida.

The ultrasound showed a large bubble on her back from a portion of her spinal cord protruding from a neural tube that had failed to close. The birth defect could lead to a variety of complications, including the inability to walk, issues with bladder and bowel movements, trouble breathing and swallowing and hindbrain herniation, the malformation in which the developing brain shifts downward toward the upper spinal column which can lead to buildup of fluid on the brain.

Fetal surgery is a major milestone for the treatment of children 

The Gilstraps looked to the surgeons at the Colorado Fetal Care Center to operate on Emma at 24 weeks in utero. Emma was born prematurely at 31 weeks on April 17, 2014, and weighed 3 pounds, 1 ounce. The procedure reversed the hindbrain herniation and today, Emma still faces certain complications, but overall is a happy, healthy baby.

For additional coverage on the Gilstraps' story, see the article from The Denver Post.

The Colorado Fetal Care Center includes a team of top-ranked, internationally known fetal surgeons, physicians and experts in maternal fetal medicine, fetal surgery and the full range of pediatric subspecialties from Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado Hospital and University of Colorado School of Medicine.