These photographs were taken during in utero fetal surgery to correct spina bifida lesions

at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, a pioneer and leader in successful in utero fetal surgery, by a skilled surgical team including Dr. Joseph Bruner and Dr. Noel Tulipan for Sarah Marie Switzer, 24-week-old baby on July 1, 1999 and Samuel Alexander Armas, 21-week-old baby on August 19, 1999

Sarah Marie Switzer 24-week-old baby
Surgeons hold up the hand and arm of 24-week-old baby Sarah Marie Switzer during spina bifida surgery in utero with Surgeon Joseph Bruner at Vanderbilt UMC. Sarah Marie Switzer (in utero) Born on August 22, 1999 Photos taken on July 1, 1999 by Max Aguilera Hellweg

Sarah Marie Switzer - 24-week-old baby This photograph was published in the December 1999 issue of Life magazine. It shows groundbreaking fetal surgery being performed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. In this surgery, Dr. Joseph Bruner gently lifts the right arm of the 24-week-old fetus in Trish Switzer’s womb during surgery to repair spina bifida, one of the most crippling birth defects. The Life article “Born Twice” explains how Dr. Bruner and other doctors at Vanderbilt UMC have pioneered a technique to operate on fetuses in the womb three to four months before their normal delivery dates. This surgery, in which doctors open the womb, operate on the fetus, and then sew the womb back up, offers images of life before birth that had never been seen before 1999. The Life story discusses the journey of Trish and Mike Switzer and the birth of their daughter, Sarah Marie. The photographs were taken by Max Aguilera Hellweg.

Sarah Switzer - 24-week-old baby – view 1

Sarah Switzer - 24-week-old baby – view 2

Sarah Switzer - 24-week-old baby – view 3

Samuel Alexander Armas 21-week-old baby
Surgeon touches the hand of 21-week-old baby Samuel Alexander Armas during spina bifida surgery in utero with Surgeon Joseph Bruner at Vanderbilt UMC. Samuel Alexander Armas (in utero) Born on December 2, 1999 Photos taken on August 19, 1999 by Michael Clancy

Samuel Alexander Armas - 21-week-old baby This photograph was published in the September 1999 issue of USA Today. It shows groundbreaking fetal surgery being performed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. In this surgery, Dr. Joseph Bruner gently touches the hand of the 21-week-old fetus in Julie Armas’ womb during surgery to repair spina bifida, one of the most crippling birth defects. Dr. Bruner and other doctors at Vanderbilt UMC have pioneered a technique to operate on fetuses in the womb three to four months before their normal delivery dates. This surgery, in which doctors open the womb, operate on the fetus, and then sew the womb back up, offers images of life before birth that had never been seen before 1999. The story discusses the journey of Julie and Alex Armas and the birth of their son, Samuel Alexander. The photographs were taken by Michael Clancy.

Samuel Armas - 21-week-old baby – view 1

Samuel Armas - 21-week-old baby – view 2

Samuel Armas - 21-week-old baby – view 3

Samuel Armas - 21-week-old baby – view 4

Samuel Armas - 21-week-old baby – view 5

Samuel Armas - 21-week-old baby – view 6

Samuel Armas - 21-week-old baby – view 7

Dr. Joseph Bruner (left) and Dr. Noel Tulipan were swarmed by former patients at a recent reunion of fetal-surgery families. (photo by Anne Rayner)

First study results in on fetal surgery pioneered at VUMC By: Nancy Humphrey, 11/12/1999, Reporter, Vanderbilt Medical Center‘s Weekly Newspaper “The first comprehensive follow-up of 29 babies, born after undergoing fetal surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to repair spina bifida, shows a significant reduction in the need for shunts to relieve hydrocephalus….”

These beautiful photographs, the full stories of these babies, born twice, their births, their current lives, and comments by their parents are in the public arena. All photographs and information are searchable on the internet, and are available from various websites for download and use.
A few of the many public resources that were reviewed include: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, website http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/index.html?ID=957 On the Frontier of Fetal Surgery, Fall 1999, Vol. 16, No. III, Vanderbilt Medicine http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/258/43/ http://www.famouspictures.org/mag/index.php?title=Fetus_hand_reaches_out http://www.nrlc.org/news/1999/NRL1299/surg.html http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1012548/posts http://blog.al.com/living-times/2008/10/conquering_spina_bifida.html http://www.nrlc.org/News/2003/NRL10/an_update_on_samuel_armas.htm http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,519181,00.html http://www.michaelclancy.com http://www.maxaguilerahellweg.com