Monday, November 15, 2004

Hand of Hope

I know this one has been passed around through email before, but it's been a long time since I've seen it and I really like it.
A picture began circulating in November. It should be "The Picture of the Year," or perhaps, "Picture of the Decade." It won't be.

In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably will never see it. The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a surgeon named Joseph Bruner. The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. She knew of Dr. Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb.

During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr. Bruner completed the surgery on little Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed, hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. In a Time Europe article highlighting new pregnancy imagery that show the formation of major organs and other significant evidence of the formation of human life but a few days after conception, Dr. Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile.

The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, "Hand of Hope." The text explaining the picture begins, "The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life."

Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us my pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person." Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful.

I was curious to see more about this story. I Googled "Samuel Alexander Armas" and came up with this page. Here's what it had to say:
Dear Friends and Family,

Samuel arrived on Thursday, Dec. 2 [1999] at 6:25 pm at Northside Hospital weighing 5 lbs 11 oz and 20 1/2 " long. He was born at 36 weeks but came into the world screaming his head off! He did not have to spend any time in a neonatal unit and came home with us on Monday, Dec. 6. After viewing an ultrasound of his brain, Samuel's neurosurgeon was very optimistic as he does not have any hydrocephalus and the brain malformation has resolved. He is moving his legs very well from the hips and some from the knees. He was frank breech (folded in half) in the womb and the orthopedist feels that he has a good chance for walking. He will begin physical therapy next week in order to work out some of the stiffness in his legs that was a result of his being folded in half in the womb. He is also nursing very well.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. We are happier than we ever dreamed possible!

All our love,
Julie, Alex and Samuel Armas
There are a couple pictures of Samuel since his birth. Check it out. He's a cutie.


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