Tygerberg Hospital medical personnel perform first EXIT procedure in South Africa

A rare fetal abnormality saw about eight skilled medical personnel at Tygerburg Hospital perform the first Ex utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT) procedure in South Africa.

EXIT is a surgical procedure that is used to deliver babies who are experiencing a blockage of the airway. Kiara Jackson’s baby girl had developed a tumour in her mouth, and Jackson was advised that the growing tumour could cause complications in the future delivery of the baby.

Complications for the fetus may include obstruction of the airway or esophagus, which could result in too much fluid surrounding the fetus in the womb, leading to early labour. The fetus could also develop heart failure, and “the baby would also need surgery after birth that could result in damage to her vocal cords, nerves or vessels”, according to Laticia Pienaar, Principal Communications Officer at Tygerberg Hospital.

According to professor Lut Geerts, this is the first procedure of its kind to be performed in South Africa. She noted that six different teams with their own staff and equipment had availed themselves within 24 hours to carry out the successful procedure, as the mother, Kiara Jackson, was showing signs of impending labour. Courtesy: Western Cape Government

“An extensive team of medical subspecialists at [Tygerberg Hospital] performed a successful EXIT procedure on 10 December 2021 by only half-delivering a baby to create a gap of 30 minutes for treatment while continuing oxygen supply via the placenta. In that period a team of doctors used multiple methods to establish an airway for the baby because she couldn’t breathe spontaneously due to the presence of a very large tumour of her throat, which protruded from her mouth,” explained professor Lut Geerts, one of the doctors involved in the planning and execution of the successful procedure.

The baby was fully delivered, after the procedure, and cared for in paedeatric surgery until 15 December.

Following Jackson’s surgery, she was discharged not having experienced any complications and her daughter, Ivoree Jane, is stable and remains in the neonatal intensive care unit for supportive care.

Done By: Caitlin Maledo