An experimental – and controversial – procedure for treating a crippling birth defect in the womb offered Trish and Mike Switzer the only chance that their daughter would walk like other children. But the fetal surgery posed a fatal dilemma: Their baby could die before she was born.
Photographer Max Aguilera-Hellweg said about this photo: “During a spina bifida corrective procedure at twenty-one weeks in utero, Samuel thrusts his tiny hand out of the surgical opening of his mother’s uterus. As the doctor lifts his hand, Samuel reacts to the touch and squeezes the doctor’s finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shakes the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. At that moment, I took this “Fetal Hand Grasp” photo.