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Mother and son undergo surgery together

An ultrasound revealed complications with Sarah’s pregnancy. Her baby had a severe form of spina bifida that could lead to paralysis and many other lifelong complications. Baby Abel would need a surgery that, in Wisconsin, is only performed by Children’s.

Abel’s story began when Sarah and Kyle Nachman found out they were pregnant with their second baby. Their 20-week ultrasound revealed the baby had a severe form of spina bifida that could lead to paralysis and many other lifelong complications.

Their doctors suggested that they meet with the team at Children’s that was successfully performing in utero spina bifida surgery. Sarah and Kyle met with the medical team at Children’s Fetal Concerns Center and decided to go ahead with the surgery. At 24 weeks, just four weeks after the Nachmans had learned of Abel’s condition, Sarah and Abel underwent the repair surgery while he was still in the womb.

The number one strength of the staff is empathy. The team was so empathetic — not only to me, but to Kyle, too. They cared for us, as the parents in crisis, as they did for our baby. – Sarah

The surgery went well. Just two weeks later, Sarah was able to return home to Oshkosh, WI. She was required to remain on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy to reduce the risk of premature birth.

Sarah’s water broke at 32 weeks and there was not time to get to Milwaukee for the delivery, which was their birth plan. Instead, Abel was born at their local hospital in Oshkosh. Children’s immediately sent their transport team from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin – Fox Valley (Neenah) to evaluate Abel and transport him to Milwaukee via ambulance. The newborn was cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and spent his first Christmas and New Years in the hospital. Abel was carefully monitored by many specialists, but because of the fetal surgery, he did not have many of the complications he could have had.

He grew and flourished and was able to go home on January 2 — still three weeks before he was supposed to be born! On May 5, Abel celebrated his 5-month birthday. Though Abel will continue to need care from multiple specialties as he grows and develops, the Children’s Fetal Concerns Center team gave him the best start for a bright future.

Your support makes this all possible

Children’s is the only hospital in Wisconsin that performs in utero surgery for spina bifida. The first procedure in Wisconsin was performed in 2014 by the Fetal Concerns Center team, and Children’s continues to be the only program in the state that offers this procedure. More than 90 fetal interventions have been performed at Children’s since 2011. It is through the generous support of people like you that we can continue to provide the best care possible. Help us help kids by donating today! If you would like to speak with someone in the foundation about other ways you can help, please call us at (414) 266-6100.

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