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Last Updated: Monday, 22 August 2005, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Foetus gets 'earliest blood op'
Blood for transfusion
The blood transfusion was performed 17 weeks into the pregnancy
An unborn baby has become one of the youngest recipients of a blood transfusion.

Ruby Doland had the treatment when her mother, Kelly, from Bedfordshire, was just 17 weeks pregnant because of a rare blood condition.

A needle was inserted into the umbilical cord of Ruby - now 12 weeks old - to give her blood to stop her developing anaemia and heart failure.

Most mothers and babies with the condition receive blood after 20 weeks.

Ruby needed another four transfusions at the foetal care unit at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in west London during the pregnancy although for these a needle was injected into a vessel in the liver - a much less risky process.


Mrs Doland, 27, said: "It was a very distressing time for us. The cord was so tiny that to do it successfully takes some doing.

"Now that we have a beautiful baby it is all behind us and that is thanks to the amazing work of the doctors."

Ruby developed a condition called Rh immunisation, whereby the mother's antibodies break down the baby's red blood cells, causing anaemia and if left untreated heart failure.

Mrs Doland's first child, Harry, now two, also developed the condition, but was given the transfusion later on in the pregnancy.

Ruwan Wimalasundera, a consultant at the hospital, said: "This is the earliest blood transfusion we have on records.

"It was particularly tricky because the pregnancy was so early. We would normally inject into the liver, but in this case because it was so soon the team led by consultant, Salesh Kumar, had to go into the umbilical cord.

"About 85% of babies with this die if they don't get the treatment."

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