A mother whose baby was born ‘inside out’ due to a rare condition which causes  organs to develop outside of the body has revealed her shock.

Ashlie Fowler, 29, from Bury, Greater Manchester, was told 12 weeks into her pregnancy that her first child would be born with Gastroschisis is a birth defect that prevents the abdominal wall completely from developing. 

Despite being prepared, the vehicle technician said she was still stunned when her baby was born and has shared pictures showing the extent of the condition, which left Koa needing to stay in hospital for three weeks after his birth.

He is happy living happily at home now that he is five-weeks old with Ashlie, her mother and father Carl (29). 

Ashlie Fowler, 29, from Bury, Greater Manchester, was left shocked after her son Koa (pictured together) was born with his organs outside of his body due to a rare birth defect

Ashlie Fowler was 29, from Bury in Greater Manchester. Her son Koa, (pictured together), was born with all his organs out of his body because of a rare birth defect. 

“He’s now home, doing well. He is home sooner than he anticipated. He’s called Koa, which means fighter or warrior in Hawaiian,’ Ashlie said.

“Me, my partner surf” is a nickname we used before we discovered what was wrong. It seemed so fitting when it was revealed.

“His weight is the most concerning because his bowels are on the outside and he was not allowed to eat for the first week.

Gastroschisis can be described as a birth defect of a baby’s abdominal wall. The baby may not properly fuse its anterior body wall during birth.

If the abdomen is not closed properly, organs could leak from the body to the left of the belly button as they grow.

Extreme cases may even see the liver or stomach escape from the body.

Ashlie said she and partner Carl, 29, are concerned about Koa's weight as he wasn't allowed to eat anything for the first week after birth. Pictured: Koa just after being born

Ashlie, 29-year-old Ashlie and her partner Carl are worried about Koa’s weight since he was forbidden to eat food for his first week of life. Koa after he was born 

Ashlie stated, “At my 12-week scan, I discovered I was pregnant. So I learned quite early.

“I was shocked, I was not sure what to do, but the scanner said the bowel was outside, and my heart dropped.”

“I didn’t know what it meant.”

“I am not a medical professional so I don’t know if it is worse than what it sounds like.”

“Once I started to see specialists, they were very confident that he would be fine.

“We needed to take him to a special hospital because he could not be born at a regular hospital.

Ashlie admits she had no knowledge of gastroschisis until learning at her 12-week scan that Koa would be born with the condition. Pictured: Koa shortly after birth

Ashlie admits she had no knowledge of gastroschisis until learning at her 12-week scan that Koa would be born with the condition. Koa just after she was born 

What exactly is gastroschisis? 

Gastroschisis can be described as a defect of the abdominal wall. It occurs when a child’s abdomen does not develop fully while in the womb.

The intestine grows inside the umbilical chord early in every pregnancy and moves within the abdomen several weeks later.

Gastroschisis occurs when the abdominal wall doesn’t form fully. The intestines expand outside of the body, and the baby is born with them.

It is not known what the cause may be. It is becoming more common in women under age 20.

However, the prevalence rate of the condition is low. Only one out of 3,000 children are born each year with it in the UK.

It’s usually detected by routine prenatal ultrasound scans.

Numerous children born preterm with gastroschisis, typically at 35 weeks of age, are often premature.

The majority of babies born with the birth defect occur naturally. However, some might need to have a caesarean.

It is possible for gastroschisis children to grow up with a positive outlook. They can work and have families. 

Children with simple gastroschisis (no damage to their intestines) spend about one month in the hospital. They then begin to eat normally after a few weeks.

Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital 

“They would have preferred a natural birth but he was breech so they had to perform a C-section at the end.

“They expect to perform surgery on him within the first four hours after he is born. The c-section was performed and the baby was quickly placed into an incubator before being whisked off to his new home.

The parents put his entire body in a bag after he was born. This is to prevent it from drying out, losing heat, or getting infected.

He was happy inside the incubator when I first saw him.

“I could not hold him right away because he was too unstable yet. Plus, I was still recovering from surgery. But he seemed happy wearing his little hat.”

Koa was first fed via a catheter to his heart for one week after his birth.

Ashlie stated that Ashlie was only on paracetamol for the next three days after he had been on morphine for three-four days.

“He was in hospital only for three to four weeks, which was amazing considering he had been expected to stay there for six.

“If any of his organs came out of him, the risk would have increased. For example, his stomach might have burst and some of his bladder could already have.” 

Ashlie was quickly discharged, and Koa had to be there to recuperate from his operations. 

Ashlie spent many days driving the hour-long trip to hospital with her son. She woke up every day at quarter to five to get to work. 

Ashlie said Koa (pictured) spent less than four weeks in hospital, despite initially being expected to be in for around six

Ashlie stated that Koa, (pictured), spent less than 4 weeks in hospital despite being initially expected to stay for about six. 

Ashlie, who was often alone while Koa was in the ICU, said the NHS staff at St Mary's Hospital have been incredible. Pictured: Koa home from hospital

Ashlie said that Koa often stayed alone in ICU while she was there. The NHS staff at St Mary’s Hospital are amazing. Koa is seen leaving the hospital. 

The Covid restrictions made it difficult for family members to travel to the hospital.

Ashlie, however, is grateful for the incredible work done by NHS staff.

“The NHS are amazing,” she said. St Mary’s Hospital is just amazing.

“If they weren’t there, he wouldn’t be here right now.” He’s getting more weight every day, so they check in on him each week.

“Once Koa was admitted to the ICU, that was difficult because there was only me and Carl. He’s clearly had to work to support us so I was alone a lot.

“My mother received a lot of calls in tears.”