A U.K. mother was left in shock after being told that her baby was born "inside out" due to a rare medical condition.
Ashlie Fowler, 29, from Bury, Greater Manchester, was 12 weeks into her pregnancy when doctors told her that her baby could have gastroschisis, a condition that causes the baby to be born with its organs sticking out of its belly.
The medical condition, essentially a birth defect, leads to the incomplete formation of the abdominal wall and the organs start to pop out of the body, to the right of the belly button. Fowler and her partner, Carl, 29, were in a state of shock when the baby was born.
The little one, whom they named Koa, had to spend three weeks in the hospital following a surgery aimed to put his organs back to where they should be. Koa is now home with his family.
"He's home now and doing well, he's home much sooner than he expected to be," Fowler told Ladbible. "Me and my partner surf so it's just a name we'd heard of before, and we named him before we found out what was wrong with him."
"So when we found out it seemed very fitting," Fowler continued. "His weight is the biggest concern because with his bowels on the outside he wasn't allowed to eat anything for the first week."
Under the condition called gastroschisis, babies fail to properly fuse their anterior body walls together. And since the area isn't properly enclosed, organs leak out of the body. Fowler was alerted about the possible defect quite early on but she failed to process what it actually was.
"I'm not at all medically qualified so I didn't know whether it was worse than how it sounded," she was quoted as saying. "Once I'd started seeing specialists they were quite confident he would be okay."
"We had to go to a specialist hospital, he couldn't be born in a regular hospital. They wanted to just do a natural birth, but he was breached so I had a C-section in the end anyway. They look to operate on him within four hours of birth. I had the C-section, and he was immediately put into an incubator and whisked away. After he was born they put all his organs into a bag because they don't want it to dry up or lose heat, or get infected. I don't think he was in any pain, because when I saw him for the first time he was all wrapped up and happy in the incubator. I couldn't hold him straight away as they said he wasn't stable enough yet, plus I was still getting cleaned up after surgery, but he looked happy in his little hat," she further told the outlet.
Fowler was all praise for the hospital staff who looked after her son. Doctors are currently keeping a tab on Koa's growth and checking if he is putting on weight.
Infants born with gastroschisis are likely to have problems with nursing and eating despite undergoing surgery. They may also have trouble digesting food and absorption of nutrients leading to slow growth, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The total number of babies born in a year with gastroschisis is estimated to be 1,871 and the birth defect is most common among young mothers.