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Video: Woman delivers baby carried outside uterus

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    >> now to a rare and remarkable delivery. an arizona woman just gave birth to a baby boy who was growing outside her uterus. we'll talk to her in a moment. first, nbc's janet shamlian is in phoenix with her story. janet, good morning to you.

    >> reporter: meredith, good morning. this amazing birth defies logic. a young woman , pregnant with her second child, learns the fetus is growing inside the lining of some abdominal muscles outside the wound. doctors tell her to proceed with the pregnancy would be putting her life in danger. yet, she presses on. this newborn, by all accounts, is a miracle baby . nikki soto gave birth monday in a pregnancy that defied the odds.

    >> it was really scary. just because we didn't know where the baby was and what he was attached to and what could happen.

    >> reporter: during the pregnancy, the 27-year-old phoenix woman carried the baby outside of her uterus. the baby surrounded only by a thin wall of membrane and muscle. a pregnancy so unlikely, so rare, doctors couldn't say whether it had ever happened before .

    >> i'm not expecting to see this again. i haven't seen this before.

    >> reporter: soto says doctors warned her when they discovered the condition at 18 weeks that continuing the pregnancy would put her own life at risk.

    >> even though she elected to continue the pregnancy, i believe she was hearing our concerns and understood the risk, balanced the risk and benefits and did everything we asked them to do in the hospital.

    >> reporter: planning for every contingency, a staff of 25 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel was there. but in the end the procedure went off without a hitch. the baby, named azlen cruz perfecto was delivered by c-section at 32 weeks, weighing just under 3 pounds but doctors say perfecto is doing great.

    >> obviously he was born eight weeks earlier than we would normally like him to be. but he's in stable condition .

    >> i'm thankful that everything turned out so well and that i didn't stop and the doctors didn't stop. i'm just so grateful.

    >> reporter: nikki will leave the hospital in a few days. azlen in a few weeks but only because of his low birth weight . his name comes from "the chronicles of narnia ." it represents strength and bravery.

    >> thank you very much, janet shamlian . n irk nikki is with us along with one of her doctors. good morning to you both.

    >> good morning.

    >> good morning, meredith.

    >> after all you have gone through how are you doing and how is azlen doing?

    >> i'm doing well and the baby is, too.

    >> i want --

    >> um --

    >> go ahead.

    >> i want to go back to monday if i can. just the thoughts going through your mind. you're about to deliver the baby c-section. doctors told you how risky it is. they're not sure when where the baby is, what the placenta might be attached to. it has to be a frightening moment for you.

    >> it was. up until monday morning i was fine. like, everything's going to go great. everything will be fine. monday morning i started panicking. it wasn't a normal c-section. it's an incision from my abdomen, from my belly, my lower -- so it was a big incision. i was concerned about that, too. but everything went well.

    >> doctor, the question people at home might be having is how is this even possible? i have never heard of this.

    >> we haven't seen anything like this before or heard anyone describe something like this. it looked like the pregnancy developed outside the uterus in an upper corner in the uterus and the muscle just expanded to allow this to continue as far as it did. it typically wouldn't accommodate more than 12 to 14 weeks of a pregnancy.

    >> started like an ectopic pregnancy then?

    >> started in the upper portion of the muscle. some of the imaging studies looked like it was separate but it continued to expand like an outpouching of the upper portion of the uterine wall .

    >> what was your greatest concern going into monday's operation?

    >> well, the biggest concern is what it would be attached to and where the blood supply came from because it is not a normal pregnancy. there was great risk for bleeding, injury and potential need to remove organs including bowel, ovaries, tubes. things of that nature.

    >> but the placenta was attached to the outside of of the uterus?

    >> yeah. the placenta was attached to the thin outpouching of the uterine wall with blood supply coming from the right ovary and tube. all she had to have removed was the right ovary and tube. she was able to keep the uteruterus.

    >> will it be possible for nikki to have another baby? sp.

    >> that's correct. she has her uterus and left tube and ovary. hopefully more normal next time.

    >> you have a 7-year-old son at home. you tried five years for another baby. you knew how risky it was. doctors told you, if you go ahead with the pregnancy, there is so much risk attached. what made you decide to do that given the fact that you have a son at home?

    >> it was the fact that this was maybe my only chance to carry another child because if this didn't go right and we had to remove the uterus or something like that i wouldn't carry again. so i really was hoping for the best that i would carry this one through and have a second child. we wanted that.

    >> what was it like to carry the ba baby? nobody else we have heard of experienced this. every day were you worried?

    >> a little bit. every day there was concern in my mind. is everything going to go okay like i'm telling myself it will? it was concerning. i took the risk and i just stayed in the hospital. i tried to stay as safe as i could to make everything the best that it could go.

    >> it took a large team to get you through this wonderful delivery of your little boy . what would you like to say to them?

    >> my gratitude. i'm so thankful for all of their hard work. they didn't give up on me. they didn't give up on my son. they followed my wishes to continue the pregnancy, even though it was risky. it was something that we all had to go through together. i'm so thankful that everything turned out so well.

    >> so are we. nikki soto , best to you and your family.

    >> thank you.

    >> dr. cook as well, thank you and great job.

    >> thank you.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 5/27/2011 11:45:11 AM ET 2011-05-27T15:45:11

When doctors told Nicky Soto that her baby was growing outside her womb, the Arizona mom was stunned and scared. Soto was told that her life would be at risk if she opted to continue with the ectopic pregnancy — and no one held out much hope that the baby would survive.

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But Soto, 27, had struggled for five years to become pregnant. After some soul searching, she decided to take the risk, fearing that this might be her last chance.

On Monday her gamble paid off: Soto gave birth though Caesarean section to a healthy, albeit small, baby boy named Azelan Cruz Perfecto. Her doctors say they’ve never seen or heard anything like this miracle birth.

Soto got the disturbing news about her ectopic pregnancy when she was 18 weeks along. She’d been referred to a specialist when her regular physician detected a problem. On ultrasound images it was clear that Soto was carrying a boy, but that the baby was not in the normal spot. What the specialist couldn’t tell was exactly where baby was growing. If the baby’s placenta was attached to a vital organ, that would be extremely dangerous.

“It was really scary,” Soto remembered tearfully. “Just because we didn’t know where the baby was and what he was attached to and what could happen.”

Still, Soto figured it was now or never.

“There was the fact that this was maybe my only chance to carry another child,” she told TODAY’S Meredith Vieria. “If this didn’t go right and we had to remove the uterus, I wouldn’t be able to carry again. I was hoping for the best.”

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Specialists told Soto that serious complications – or even death – might be the result if she continued the pregnancy.

“Our biggest concern was what it would be attached to and where the blood supply came from,” Dr. Curtis Cook, Soto’s surgeon explained on TODAY.

Even with MRI scans, it was impossible to see whether any of Soto’s vital organs or blood vessels were wrapped up in the placenta,  said Cook, a physician at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix.

To keep an eye on Soto and the pregnancy, doctors advised her to stay at the hospital till they delivered the baby. She’s been there since March.

Though she tried to stay in good spirits, sometimes Soto worried about what would happen to her 7-year-old son if she died trying to give him a brother.

“Every day the concern was in my mind: Is everything going to go well like I’m telling myself it will?” she told Vieria. “It was concerning, but I took the risk. I just stayed in the hospital and I tried to stay as safe as I could.”

She kept those concerns under control until Monday morning, the time doctors had scheduled for her surgery to deliver the baby at 32 weeks.

“Up until Monday morning I was fine,” Soto told Vieria. “That’s when I started panicking.”

But ultimately, there was some good luck in Soto’s bad fortune. The placenta, it turns out, wasn’t attached to any organs after all. It was attached to the outside of the uterus.

Still, Curtis and others in the 25-member team that delivered Soto’s son are amazed at how well everything turned out. Baby Azelan is considered low-birth weight, but has no major complications.

For her part, Soto is deeply grateful to everyone who helped.

“I’m so thankful for all their hard work,” she told Vieria. “They didn’t give up on my son. They followed my wishes to continue the pregnancy even though it was risky. It was something we all had to go through together.”

Related: Medical marvel: Baby Macie Hope was born twice

Related: 4-titude: Four sets of quadruplets born at same hospital

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Linda Carroll is a health and science writer living in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Health magazine and SmartMoney. She is co-author of the forthcoming book, "The Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemic."

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