ROCKVILLE, Md. -- A medical anomaly turned into a marvel Thursday with news that a 29-year-old Silver Spring woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy 153 days after the stillborn birth of his twin brother.
Jubilant doctors made the announcement at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital here, declaring the world record for the longest case of arrested labor. They attributed the success not so much to new technology as to the precision stitching skills of the obstetrician, effective medications, the fortitude of the parents and the mother's extraordinary vigilance during five months of bed rest.
Still feeling weary from the ordeal, Mindy Rosenthal cradled her child, 10-day-old Benjamin, born full-term, at the news conference and expressed surprise at all the fuss.
''I didn't know we were making history,'' she said.
Her husband, Stephen, an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department, cheered his wife's efforts and said jokingly that their life at home since August had been like the children's story ''Horton Hatches the Egg,'' in which an elephant, sick with a headache and heartache, steadfastly sits to hatch an egg.
''I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful one hundred percent,'' he said, quoting the famous verse by Dr. Seuss. ''We did it. We're very fortunate.''
Repeatedly referring to the event as miraculous, the obstetrician, Sheri Hamersley, said chances of a successful delivery were less than 1 percent. It's not all that uncommon for a woman to miscarry one fetus but carry the second twin to term. But cases like Mindy Rosenthal's, where the cervix opens and the mother actually delivers the baby, are very unusual.
The procedure Hamersley used employed a precisely placed stitch the thickness of a shoestring at the opening of the womb moments after the cervix opened and the first twin was born.
Because the mother was in labor, without the stitch to close the womb, delivery of the second twin would have been ''inevitable,'' Hamersley said.
Although the procedure has been used since 1978, only in rare cases have stitches been placed so early in the life of a fetus and still led to a successful birth.
The only other reported case of such a lengthy arrested labor occurred in November at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, where a woman gave birth to the remaining twin after 152 days.
Doctors cautioned that other women in similar circumstances should be aware of how unusual the Rosenthal case is and said that chances for success still remain minute.
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