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Banner's first spina bifida fetal surgery baby is born

Ramon Alberto Contreras entered the world at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson

TUCSON (April 25, 2024) – On Tuesday, April 23, Ramon Alberto Contreras was born at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. Doctors with Banner – University Medicine Fetal Care Center performed a delicate procedure on Ramon during the 25th week of pregnancy - the state’s first spina bifida fetal surgery.


Ramon weighed 5 lbs., 6 ounces and headed home with his mother Priscila Carranza Olea and father Ramon Alberto Contreras Armenta on Thursday, April 25. The baby was delivered at 35 weeks of pregnancy and is bottle feeding and responding normally, thanks to the highly specialized care received from the multidisciplinary team at Banner and Diamond Children’s Medical Center.


“His birth is a miracle. The baby is well, is very happy and content, as are we. He will only require treatment for his foot, which is twisted but we can begin treatment for that within weeks. Overall, we were prepared but didn’t know what to expect and were afraid but had faith that everything would turn out well. We can’t wait to go home and be with our other family members who are eager to meet him,” said Carranza Olea.


Also known as fetal myelomeningocele, spina bifida is an opening in the spinal column that can occur in early pregnancy, typically developing in the fetus during the first four weeks of pregnancy. The complicated repair procedure involves opening the uterus and closing the opening in the unborn baby's spine while they are still developing in the womb. The delicate surgery is done to improve outcomes for infants with spina bifida, positively impacting their ability to walk and prevent further damage to the spinal cord.


Carranza Olea and her husband were 22 weeks pregnant when they learned of the spina bifida diagnoses. She had not noticed anything different about this pregnancy compared to her other two pregnancies until the time of diagnosis. She had no idea this type of surgery existed and could be done before her expected delivery date, which was in May.


The surgery was performed by Ken Liechty, MD, a fetal and pediatric surgeon and director of fetal medicine at Banner – University Medicine and surgeon-in-chief at Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center, and Anthony Avellino, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon. Dr. Liechty has been providing fetal care across the country for over 15 years and has led the development of the fetal surgery program at Banner – University Medicine.


To learn more about the Banner – University Medicine Fetal Care Center, please visit:


About Banner Children’s – Diamond Children’s Medical Center


Banner Children’s – Diamond Children’s Medical Center provides pediatric care for children, from newborns to teens. Services include emergency care, heart disorders, traumatic brain injury, autism and developmental disorders, cancer, diabetes and endocrinology, gastrointestinal and nutritional disorders, neurological problems, orthopedics, intensive care needs and more. It is the only pediatric medical facility in Arizona connected to an academic research facility — the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center — where physician-scientists provide access to groundbreaking science and research to advance children’s health. For more information, visit


About Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South


Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center South are part of Banner – University Medicine, a premier academic medical network. These institutions are academic medical centers for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Included on the two campuses are Diamond Children's Medical Center and many specialty clinics. The two academic medical centers are part of Arizona-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit or

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