Medical Milestone as Doctors Successfully Transfuse Baby in Mother’s Womb
- Medical specialists at KNH, East Africa’s largest referral hospital performed the delicate Intrauterine Fetal Transfusion
- The KNH team said the medical procedure should ensure the pregancy is successful
- An intrauterine transfusion is a medical procedure in which red blood cells from a donor are injected
into a fetus with a low red blood cell count.
Medics at Kenyatta National Hospital are celebrating yet another medical
milestone in foetal medicine after they successfully transfused a baby while still in the
The highly delicate procedure, known as the Intrauterine Fetal Transfusion, was undertaken
by a team of four doctors who included specialists Dr. Rosa Chemwey, Dr. Flavia Ogutu, and
Dr. Ikol Adung’o, as well as Dr. Kunjira Murayi (Interventional Radiologist).
They were assisted by Nurses Mr. Benson Nyankuru, Ms. Redempata Mumo, and a
reproductive Health Clinical Officer – Mr. Tony Wainaina.
An intrauterine transfusion is a medical procedure in which red blood cells from a donor are injected
into the fetus. Intrauterine transfusion may be recommended when a fetus has anemia (low
red blood cell count).
Using ultrasound to determine the position of the fetus and placenta, the surgeon inserts a
needle into the mother’s abdomen and then into the umbilical vein or the fetus’ abdomen.
Red blood cells that are compatible with the fetus’ blood type are passed through the needle
into the fetus.
Fetal transfusions may need to be repeated every few weeks until the fetus is
ready to be born.
The mother is given antibiotics, local anesthesia, and IV sedation, which also sedates the fetus.
The fetus may be given additional medication to stop movement.
According to Dr. Chemwey, out of the four pregnancies, the mother only had one successful
“The mother only has one baby, the last two died of a blood complication known as hemolytic
disease of the newborn,” she said while referring to the disease where a baby’s red blood cells
break down quickly.
“We are indeed very determined to ensure this particular pregnancy succeeds. We hope for
positive outcomes. This baby is 25 weeks, three days old,” said Dr Chemwey.
She said the baby had severe anemia because the baby was ‘rhesus alloimmunized’ a situation
in pregnancy when the maternal red blood cells (RBCs) lacking the rhesus antigen are
exposed to rhesus-positive red blood cells through the placenta leading to the activation of
the maternal immune system.
“So the mum’s antibodies destroy the baby’s blood, which then develops into anaemia over
time,” she went on.
According to the specialists, the transfusion procedure takes between 30min to an hour.
“We transfused between 80-100mls of packed red cells. This blood is special as it is Onegative Leucoreduced, hemoconcentrated, CMV negative, and irradiated to make it very
safe for the baby,’ she said.
Kenyatta National Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr. Evanson Kamuri hailed the KNH team
for another milestone. “This is foetal medicine and an institutional landmark. We have
attained yet another achievement in fulfilling our mandate as a top premier referral
“I’d like to thank the team of doctors and those assisting them for the splendid work done.
This confirms that we have the very best medics here at KNH.”