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How a minimally invasive gynecological surgery gave one woman her greatest gift – a son

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate gratitude, and for Sherresa Henderson last Thanksgiving was an especially grateful season. Just two days after the holiday her and her husband, Joseph, were blessed with their miracle baby boy, Braylen, born on November 27, 2021 weighing 2 pounds and 12 ounces.

Henderson’s journey to motherhood was not without struggle – after suffering unknown infertility for 10 years along with several pregnancy losses over the course of the past three years, her decade-long dream to have a baby finally came true.

She lost two healthy pregnancies in 2020, both at 17 weeks, due to an incompetent cervix. Also referred to as a cervical insufficiency. An incompetent cervix occurs when weak cervical tissue causes or contributes to premature birth and the loss of a healthy pregnancy due to advanced cervical dilation and effacement before week 24 of pregnancy. Cervical insufficiency can only be diagnosed during pregnancy.

Seven months after her previous miscarriage in November of 2020, Henderson found out she was pregnant again. This time she was referred to Dr. Joseph Nassif, a gynecology specialist with expertise in minimally invasive gynecological surgery at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women.

By week ten of her pregnancy with Braylen she had a laparoscopic transabdominal cerclage placed through a minimally invasive procedure – allowing for a quicker recovery with less pain and less risk of complications.

“I feel like I can confidently say that if it wasn’t for this procedure I would have never made it this far in my pregnancy nor would I have my son Braylen here with me today. Because of this procedure I was able to carry my baby much longer than 17 weeks this time,” Henderson said. “From day one it was clear that my safety, well-being, and safety of my pregnancy during the procedure was Dr. Nassif’s main priority. He was very thorough. He listened to all of my concerns in regards to my surgery and possible outcomes of the pregnancy with the transabdominal cerclage in place,” she said.

A transabdominal cerclage is a small, woven synthetic band that is stitched high on the cervix, the cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina. The synthetic band supports the cervix and helps to resist the pressure that a growing fetus places on it, therefore preventing the cervix from dilating prematurely during pregnancy.

The laparoscopic procedure differs from an open transabdominal cerclage placement, where the incision is similar to a caesarean section. The minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure uses four very small incisions, one for a camera and three for the instruments to tie the cerclage in a knot around the back of the cervix.

Henderson shared that through the years she was referred to multiple doctors and specialists, which meant telling her story and history over and over again, only get nowhere. “However, with Dr. Nassif he displayed great bedside manner, was very knowledgeable about the procedure, and he showed a great deal of interest in the rarity of my case,” she said. “Dr. Nassif was very detailed oriented, thorough, and straight forward with expectations and outcomes of his work. I am grateful for his care, honesty and expertise throughout this challenging yet critical time of my pregnancy.”

 “This was a wonderful full circle moment. Generally, transabdominal cerclages are placed before pregnancy – however we were able to place the cerclage at 10 weeks and coordinate Sherresa’s care with our maternal fetal team here at Texas Children's Hospital and the end result was a beautiful baby boy born here at the Pavilion for Women,” said Nassif.

For Henderson and her husband, their miracle baby is the rainbow at the end of their dark and rainy storm. “Braylen is the bright light that shines at the end of the tunnel for us. After all the trials we’ve been through, God has blessed us with the most precious gift of all – a child,” she said. “After all the losses and heartbreak my husband and I have endured physically and emotionally, we are now overjoyed with happiness and love.”

For more information on the Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, click here.

Click here for more information on the Texas Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine program.

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