Elsie Cox: Baby survives being born with external organs

A Queensland baby who was born with major internal organs outside his body has defied the odds and is about to enjoy his first Christmas.

Little Elsie’s parents, Hannah and Simon Cox, from the Sunshine Coast, received the shocking news at a 12-week scan that their baby had a “giant” omphalocele.

The condition involves the baby’s organs growing outside its body in the umbilical cord.

Elsie’s stomach, liver and intestines were outside her tiny body, which posed a huge challenge for her medical team at the Maternal Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Mater Mothers Hospital, who had to ensure – make sure their organs don’t break during childbirth.

On May 30, 39 weeks into Ms Cox’s pregnancy, Dr James Aridas performed a complex C-section to deliver Elsie, who weighed 2.56kg.

Dr Aridas said a team of more than 10 medical professionals assisted in the successful delivery, including surgeons and anaesthetists, as well as midwives and nursing staff.

“We have to be careful with Elsie not to put pressure on her abdomen or umbilical cord during labor,” Dr. Aridas said.

“This was without a doubt the largest omphalocele I have seen in my career.

“It was a very delicate and challenging delivery, but everything went according to plan.”

Maternal neonatology director Pita Birch said omphaloceles affected one in 4200 live births, but “giant” ones were much rarer and were often associated with other abnormalities.

One in five babies born with a giant omphalocele does not survive.

“There was a plan to try to at least partially close Elsie’s abdomen, but she was too sick and had several breathing problems at birth,” Dr Birch said.

He said Elsie’s care had been a “huge team effort”, including input from her parents, who were “very attentive and actively involved” in her care.

Mrs Cox said Elsie’s condition had affected her respiratory system as her ribs and chest had formed into a cone shape and she may need surgery when she is older.

But Elsie, who spent almost two months in round-the-clock care at the Mater Mothers Hospital, is otherwise a thriving and happy baby.

“His belly is almost flat now; he has a small bulge that looks like a hernia, but it’s actually just his intestines still moving down. His body still needs time to heal.”

The couple are looking forward to celebrating their first Christmas with their amazing baby girl.

“What we have experienced this year has felt like a lifetime. I look at the pictures and see how far Elsie has come and I think ‘it’s our miracle,” Mrs Cox said.

“It’s been a great journey and worth every minute.

“We never imagined we would be home for Christmas with Elsie and sharing her with our friends and family is such a beautiful joy.”

Originally published as Qld, baby survives being born with external organs

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