Photo of Unborn Baby's Hand Continues to Change Hearts and Lives
"It was the earliest human interaction ever recorded," Clancy told NRL News. "It proved that the child at 21 weeks in utero is a reactive human being."
When he took the photo in August 1999, Clancy was a freelance photographer filming the fetal surgery procedure for USA Today. Unborn baby Samuel Armas had been diagnosed with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which occur when the spinal column fails to fuse properly, leaving a lesion (or opening) that is highly susceptible to infection. Dr. Joseph Bruner and his team at Vanderbilt University were operating to close the lesion.
After the incision was made in mother Julie Armas's abdomen, her uterus was removed and laid on her thighs. An opening was made in the uterus, and the surgeons were supposed to operate on Samuel without any part of his body emerging from inside.
However, as Clancy eloquently describes on his web site, http://www.michaelclancy.com/, "out of the corner of my eye I saw the uterus shake, but no one's hands were near it. It was shaking from within. Suddenly, an entire arm thrust out of the opening, then pulled back until just a little hand was showing.
"The doctor reached over and lifted the hand, which reacted and squeezed the doctor's finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shook the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. I took the picture! Wow! It happened so fast that the nurse standing next to me asked, 'What happened?' 'The child reached out,' I said. 'Oh. They do that all the time,' she responded."
And yet we are aborting babies at 21 weeks, some babies for "fetal abnormalties" less serious than Samuel's, some perfectly healthy. Some choice.