Baby girl who underwent spinal surgery in the womb is born healthy

A baby who had pioneering surgery on her spine while still in the womb to stop her being disabled has been born completely healthy.

Georgia Axford, 19, and Tyler Kelly, 21, discovered their daughter Piper-Kohl had spina bifida – a gap in the spine – during the 20-week scan.

The couple, from Yate, South Gloucestershire, were told the only treatment available in the UK was surgery by a doctor who’d never performed the op before, so they paid £9,000 to have it done in Germany.

Piper-Kohl Kelly was born prematurely at 30 weeks and four days – and now shares a birthday and name with Proffessor Thomas Kohl, the surgeon who did the operation.

They won’t know for certain whether the operation has been a complete success until she starts to walk – but so far doctors can’t see any signs of a problem and she’s totally healthy.

Spina bifida causes weakness or paralysis in the lower limbs, leaving sufferers dependent on supports or crutches and in severe cases wheelchair-bound.

Proud mum Georgia said: ‘She was covered in wires when she was first born but it was just the best feeling to see her. She was just so tiny.

‘You could really see the mark on her spine when she was first born. It really makes you think how incredible the procedure was.

‘We named Piper after the surgeon as a thank you for all he has done.

‘It was a bit scary at the time and was a lot of money but it was absolutely worth it.’

Medics told Georgia and Tyler treatment was available in the UK, but the procedure would be carried out by a surgeon who had never done the operation before.

In a race against time they took out a £9,000 loan and travelled 570 miles to Germany for the intricate operation, which has to be carried out before 26 weeks.


Spina bifida is when a baby’s spine and spinal cord doesn’t develop properly in the womb.

This causes a gap in the spine and the condition is a type of neural tube defect.


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