Face2Face Africa presents the Faces of Black History – a daily series in the month of February to celebrate people of colour who have opened the door of hope for young black people to realize their dreams.
In commemoration of Black History Month, we shine a light on one trailblazer each day and today, we honour Dr Oluyinka Olutoye, the surgeon who operated on an unborn baby and restored it into the mother’s womb.
Dr Oluyinka Olutoye is a Nigerian surgeon in Houston, Texas and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and St. Joseph Medical Center. He is a pediatric surgeon at the Texas Children’s Hospital and the Co-Director of the Texas Children’s Fetal Center.
He received his medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo College of Health Sciences, Ogun State University in 1988 before his post-graduate medical education in paediatrics at Howard University and District of Columbia General Hospital.
He later enrolled at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, in 1996 for his doctoral degree in anatomy and then sought additional training in pediatric, fetal and thoracic surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr Olutoye then took up a faculty position at Baylor College of Medicine and, with his colleague, Dr. Darrell Cass, they established the Texas Children’s Fetal Center at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston Texas. He has been in practice for more than 20 years.
Dr Olutoye gained global acclaim after he led a team of doctors to operate on an unborn baby at 23 weeks old who had a rare tumour at the base of her tailbone. They removed the baby from Margaret Boemer’s womb and performed the surgery before restoring the baby into the womb.
The procedure was successful and the baby healed while in the mother’s womb. Lynlee Hope was born at 36 weeks old and gained global recognition as the baby who was born twice – thanks to Dr Olutoye.
Dr Olutoye is a member of the International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society and is a Fellow of the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Surgeons; he is also a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons.
He has won several awards including the 2012 Denton A. Cooley Surgical Innovator Award at the Texas Children’s Hospital, Academy of Distinguished Educators Award at the Baylor College of Medicine, Molecular Surgeon Research Achievement Award at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery and Mark A. Wallace 2014 Catalyst Leader of the Year at the Texas Children’s Hospital.