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  • Gabby Hughes

    The picture is that of a 
21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being 
operated on by surgeon named Joseph Bruner. The baby was diagnosed with 
spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother’s womb. 
Little Samuel’s mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. 
She knew of Dr. Bruner’s remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at 
Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs these 
special operations while the baby is still in the womb. During 
the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a 
small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr. Bruner completed the 
surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed 
hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon’s finger. Dr. 
Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was 
the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during 
the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile. The 
photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors
titled the picture, “Hand of Hope.” The text explaining the picture 
begins, “The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas 
emerges from the mother’s uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph 
Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life.” Little 
Samuel’s mother said they “wept for days” when they saw the picture. She
said, “The photo reminds us pregnancy isn’t about disability or an 
illness, it’s about a little person” Samuel was born in perfect health, 
the operation 100 percent successful.

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