Successful tissue donation in the anencephalic baby
Anencephaly is a rare phenomenon, occurring in 4.7/10 000 births, which results from failure of primary neural tube closure during fetal development (
Anencephaly is a defect in the closure of the neural tube during the fourth week of gestation, occurring in 4.7/10 000 births (Collins et al, 2013). The neural tube is a narrow channel that folds and closes between 24–26 days post-fertilisation to form the brain and spinal cord of the embryo (Coady and Bower, 2015). Anencephaly occurs when the cephalic or head end of the neural tube fails to close, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull and scalp. Infants with this disorder are born without a forebrain and cerebrum (the thinking and coordinating part of the brain). The remaining brain tissue is often exposed, not covered by bone or skin (Stumpf et al, 1990; Tasker et al, 2013). A baby born with anencephaly is unconscious and will usually demise shortly after birth. Although some individuals with anencephaly may be born with rudimentary brain stem, the lack of a functioning cerebrum permanently rules out the possibility of ever gaining consciousness. Reflex actions, such as breathing and response to sound or touch, may occur (Rodeck and Whittle, 2009).
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