A toddler who underwent spinal surgery while still inside his mother’s womb is now able to stand on his own.
Charley Royer, 1, was diagnosed with spina bifida by doctors during an ultrasound, a condition in which the neutral tube does not close completely, which can lead to damage of the spinal cord and nerves.
The groundbreaking surgery was a risk, but Charley’s parents were willing to try anything to help their son. The procedure, called fetalscopic surgery, was performed in September 2017 by doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas.
The technique involved pulling the uterus outside Royer’s belly and making small incisions that enabled doctors to insert tools and microscopic cameras. The surgeons then fused the entire base of the child’s spinal column back together.
“I felt in my gut that this was the best thing for us, for him. That it could give him the best chance,” the boy’s mother said.
After researching the procedure online, both parents made the decision to move forward with the surgery.
“So I knew it was the right thing but it was hard. I just prayed and prayed,” Royer commented.
Even after the surgery proved to be a success, she still had concerns about whether her son would be able to stand on his own.
“They said most children born with a lesion that high and that severe are paralyzed from the waist down.”
Now, Charley is on his way to being able to walk on his own.
“They’re very confident that he’ll walk at this point,” Joshuwa Royer, Charley’s father said of the doctors.
Charley’s mother stated that she is so thankful and happy for her little boy. “It’s just so much joy and so much thanks. He’s so happy. When he walks he says, ‘Woah!’ [It’s] almost like he can’t believe he’s doing it himself.”
Reports state that spina bifida affects 24 babies in 100,000 and is sometimes associated with a deficiency in vitamin B and folic acid.