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Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes: Oluyinka Olutoye

Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, achieved a rare surgical feat when he successfully operated on an unborn baby, restored it to mother’s womb at a Texas hospital in the US. The preceding statement is enough to justify why he is an Everyday Hero: another Nigerian doing exploits beyond the shores of his motherland while retaining the pride for the same.

Background of our Everyday Hero

As a son of a soldier father and an academic mother, Olutoye said he was introduced early in life to a life that placed emphasis on the need to strive for excellence. He maintained that the character his parents helped him to inculcate as a child has endured until now. According to him,

The quest for excellence was introduced at an early age. I attended elementary school at Lagos University Staff School and subsequently King’s College Lagos. The character and friendships established in those formative years have endured to date.

Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye

A member of the International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society and a Fellow of the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Surgeons. The Man, Dr. Olutoye received his medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, in 1988 and his PhD in anatomy from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, in 1996. He completed his residency in general surgery at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals, Virginia Commonwealth University, and his fellowship in pediatric surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa. he is also a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons.

Following my training as a general surgeon, I sought additional training in pediatric, fetal and thoracic surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I then took up a faculty position at Baylor College of Medicine and, with my colleague, Dr. Darrell Cass, established the Texas Children’s Fetal Center at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston Texas.

Oluyinka Olutoye, and the Rare Surgical Feat

Margaret Boemer, first sensed that all was not well when her ultra-sound technician stayed unusually quiet during a routine 16-week prenatal checkup. Subsequent tests later showed that Boemer’s unborn child was suffering from the rare tumour. According to medical reports, the unborn baby had sacrococcygeal teratoma, a rare tumour that appeared at the base of the baby’s tailbone. These types of tumours, it is estimated, occur in about one of 40,000 pregnancies, and if left unchecked, could continue taking the baby’s blood supply and eventually cause heart failure. One of the hospitals she visited in Houston, according to reports, “strongly recommended” that she should terminate the pregnancy. The report further had it that the hospitals reasoned that performing open fetal surgery -removing the baby before the term in order to operate on the fetus—was too risky.

However, Margaret Boemer’s story changed when she got to the Texas Children’s Hospital, where the doctors examined the tumour and gave her some words of hope. Interestingly, two doctors at the hospital, Oluyinka Olutoye and Darrell Cass, had about seven years ago, successfully performed a similar surgery. Seven years after, Oluyinka Olutoye and Darrell Cass, alongside a team of about 20 others, performed yet another ‘miracle’ when it carried out a successful surgery on the unborn baby to remove the tumour and returned it to the mother’s womb; a feat that has generated global recognition of the baby as the baby born twice.

To carry out the operation on the baby named Lynlee Hope at 23 weeks, Olutoye and his team removed her from her mother’s womb, operated on her and then returned her to the womb where the injuries from her operation healed and she continued to grow until she was born again at 36 weeks. According to reports, while Olutoye and his team were in the middle of the procedure, the baby’s heart stopped and needed to be restarted. She also required a blood transfusion at a stage.

Olutoye: Excellent, Encouraging and Exemplary

Dr. Olutoye has specialised in clinical expertise in fetal and neonatal surgery, with a specific interest in congenital diaphragmatic hernia and complex wounds. Dr. Olutoye’s research interests include understanding the role of the fetal inflammatory response in scarless fetal wound healing, development of animal models of congenital anomalies, in utero correction of severe congenital malformations, and the study of endothelial-leukocyte and endothelial-tumour cell interactions with a goal to better understand the mechanisms of tumour metastasis.

According to Dr. Olutoye, the real MVP’s of the entire surgical process are the Parents of the Child. In his words,

We should not forget that these brave parents are the ones who did not give up on their child but sought to do all they could to improve her outcome. They deserve the focus and attention. For me to be caught up in all this excitement is only by the grace of God.

He also had this to say about Nigerians and the quest of young Nigerians to live the country for other countries:

Nigerians are talented people. If they decide to apply themselves, they can achieve much. When they then have access to resources and infrastructure, they can attain even greater heights. Nigerian youths, however, should also always note that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the divide.

Nigerians are great people, making greater positive impacts in all fields of human endeavour in the Diaspora. Dr Olutoye’s feat is one of such testimonies.


The Nation Nigeria


Times Of India

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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