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ABC Covers Medical Marvels Extended to the Unborn

What is more amazing than the miracle of life?


A “mainstream” media outlet reporting on doctors who take heroic measures to save the lives of unborn babies.  


ABC's World News with Charles Gibson aired a segment during the July 29 broadcast that showcased a successful surgery done on twin boys two months before they were born to correct a complication known as “Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.”  This complication arises when blood vessels between twins in utero fuse together and one twin starts to take blood from the other.  Untreated, the complication can cause the death of both babies.


Gibson's obvious wonderment of the story and his humanizing description of the unborn babies were almost as amazing as the story itself.  He introduced the segment by saying:


We have “Closer Look,” tonight, at some of the most awe-inspiring surgery that modern medicine has to offer.  It is not an operation performed on a heart or a brain, as delicate as those procedures might be.  This surgery is done on the tiniest, most fragile of patients imaginable.  Babies yet to be born.  ABC's John McKenzie on a rare procedure done inside the womb.  Not just on one fetus, but two.


Kim and Nate Stroh found out that their unborn twin boys were facing “Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome” and decided to try surgery to correct it. 


McKenzie explained that doctors used a tiny, telescope-like tool to enter Kim's womb and separate the blood vessels that connected the twins.  Using video of the surgery, McKenzie pointed out to viewers the twins' “perfectly formed feet and hands” but seemed astonished in this exchange with Dr. Kenneth Moise, a surgeon who performed the operation at Texas Children's Hospital:


DR. KENNETH MOISE, Texas Children's Hospital: You can see them moving, sometimes they'll reach up and grab the scope.


MCKENZIE: The fetus will grab the scope?


MOISE: We've had it actually pull on the scope.


Kim had the surgery during week 22 of her pregnancy.  The video of the surgery leaves no doubt that unborn babies truly are “the tiniest, most fragile of patients imaginable.”  ABC deserves kudos for showing it. 


Complete transcript:


CHARLES GIBSON: We have "a Closer Look," tonight, at some of the most awe-inspiring surgery that modern medicine has to offer. It is not an operation performed on a heart or a brain, as delicate as those procedures might be. This surgery is done on the tiniest, most fragile of patients imaginable. Babies yet to be born. ABC's John McKenzie on a rare procedure done inside the womb. Not just on one fetus, but two.


JOHN MCKENZIE: It was New Year's Day when Kim and Nate Stroh got the good news. Kim was pregnant. And with twins.


KIM STROH: Thrilled about having twins. It just felt like it was just something so special.


MCKENZIE: Then, in mid-April,on a routine ultrasound, doctors discovered a deadly complication.


NATE STROH: Going from there's no problems to you might lose them both in about ten minutes, it was like you got hit by a bus.


KIM STROH: We just cried. I mean, we just sat on the couch and cried. And prayed.


MCKENZIE: It's called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and happens in about 2,000 twin pregnancies every year. One fetus steals blood from the other. In most cases, both will die. The solution? Here at Texas Children's Hospital, doctors working inside the uterus actually separate those tiny blood vessels connecting the twins. With the pregnancy in its 22nd week, and Kim sedated but awake, the surgeons confront their biggest challenge.


DR. KENNETH MOISE, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Identifying every vessel that's there. And sorting out the good vessels from the bad vessels.


MCKENZIE: Using a kind of miniature telescope, doctors enter Kim's amniotic sack. And there they are, the boys. Their perfectly formed feet and hands.


MOISE: You can see them moving sometimes they'll reach up and grab the scope.


MCKENZIE: The fetus will grab the scope?


MOISE We've had it actually pull on the scope.


MCKENZIE: But not today. Using a laser, doctors sealed the harmful blood vessels, 14 in all, so blood can no longer pass from twin to twin. The result? Two months later, 32 weeks into the pregnancy. The boys arrive.


NURSE: Look at your other one.


KIM: I was proud because they were my babies. But I was proud because I knew what they had come through and how much they had fought to be there.


MCKENZIE:  The boys, that's Blake with mom, and Owen with dad, are tiny. But their prognosis is good.  And should be leaving the hospital within a few weeks.


KIM STROH: When I old them, I think -- I almost didn't get to have this moment with you guys. I almost didn't get to hold them. Just know they almost weren't here.


MCKENZIE: Almost. John McKenzie, ABC News, Houston.


GIBSON: Simply amazing. And the prognosis for both Blake and Owen, very good.


Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.