A London doctor seems to be successfully treating babies with a rare heart and brain condition using a glue injection.
The Vein of Galen malformation is a result of abnormal communication between arteries and veins in the brain - puts stress on the heart and usually results in fatal heart failure of hydrocephalus (water on the brain) within three or four days.
But a tissue adhesive called Histoacryl - similar to Super Glue - injected through a catheter in the baby's groin could block the affected area of the brain and save the child.
When Dafi of Wales was just a day old, glue was squeezed into the affected part of his brain through a catheter, plugging the leak.
AdvertisementDafi improved straight away and was able to go home but a check in Cardiff two months later detected a second leak, so Dr Brew performed the procedure for a second time.
Dafi had his fifth operation on his first birthday and expects a sixth next month.
"It's been a rollercoaster year but he's well and doing everything that he should; developing as he should," said the child's mother Mrs Catrin Evans.
"It's great. It's unbelievable. He truly is fantastic, full of energy. He's exactly like his sister."
Former headteacher Mrs Evans added: "I couldn't believe how simple an operation it looks; it's so non-invasive.
"It's so dangerous but he comes back looking perfect - no scars, just a tiny cut."
Dr Stefan Brew, a consultant interventional neuro radiologist who has treated around 50 children at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital with the glue procedure, said he still finds doing the highly skilled procedure "incredibly stressful".
Dr Brew said around six out of 10 children treated go on to live a normal life and another two in 10 will be left with only a mild disability.
A further 10 per cent will be left severely disabled and one in 10 children will die.
"No matter how careful you are, there's an element of chance to it," Dr Brew said. "What is known is that if you don't treat them, they die."
Babies usually die within three or four days of birth without treatment, but treating a child who is so small and so ill adds to the difficulty of the procedure and there are further risks if the glue does not set quickly enough or sets too quickly.
The glue technique was pioneered by Dr Pierre Lasjaunias in France in the 1980s and Dr Brew, 43, was able to go and watch him in action before his death last year.
Dr Brew said demand is rising for the treatment which is offered at only two UK centres - GOSH, in London, and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, in Glasgow - although the condition is so rare.
"It's incredibly stressful and I think it's easy to take when you're younger," he said.