Eighteen-month-old Rebecca Hanelt loves playing chef with her big sister. She’s a typical little girl who has come a long way since she was born with a life threatening condition.
At only two weeks old, Rebecca started throwing up uncontrollably. X-rays showed that her intestine was twisted - a painful problem that could cut off blood supply.
“Normally, we'd say let’s do an open operation,” explained Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Timothy Kane. “Make a big incision untwist it and fix the problem.”
But on Rebecca's fragile seven pound frame, Dr. Kane opted to make three tiny incisions using miniscule 3mm instruments and was able to untwist her intestine.
Minimally invasive surgery on newborns is seen as a much more challenging, but a less risky alternative to open surgery which can lead to major scarring, longer hospital stays and long-term health problems.
After only a week in the neo-intensive care unit, Rebecca went home after her surgery. Today, she only has a barely visible dimple mark where there would have been a life-long scar.
“He really performed a miracle on her,” said Adriane Hanelt, Rebecca’s mother. “We were really blessed to be there at the right time and the right place.”
Doctors are now able to perform minimally invasive surgeries on preemie babies who weigh less than two pounds.