Samuel Armas

Samuel Alexander Armas (born 2 from December of 1999 ) is the child seen in the famous photograph of Michael Clancy when it seemed to catch the hands of the surgeon from a hole in the mother ‘s womb during an operation surgery fetal of spine Bifida .

History after the photo

The picture was taken during a pioneering operation on 19 of August of 1999 to correct an injury spina bifida of a fetus of 21 weeks in the womb. The surgery was done by a surgical team at Vanderbilt University in Nashville . The team, Dr. Joseph Bruner and Dr. Noel Tulipan, had been developing a technique to correct certain fetal problems in the development of a pregnancy. The procedure included temporary opening of the uterus , drainage of the amniotic fluid , partial extraction of the fetus and operation on the fetus , and return of the fetus to the uterus in the mother.

Samuel Armas

Alex and Julie Armas discovered that their baby had spina bifida on an ultrasound test performed 14 weeks after fertilization . The Weapons discovered the Vanderbilt procedure in their search for options on the network. 1

Samuel Armas was the baby number 54 to be operated by the surgical team. 2 With the operation, Dr. Joseph Bruner succeeded in alleviating the effects of the opening of Samuel’s spine produced by his spina bifida.

In the world

Photos of the operation were printed in several US newspapers. UU. And from the rest of the world, including USA Today . Thanks to the operation, Armas was born healthy on December 2 , 1999 .

The 25 of September of 2003 the child’s parents, Alex and Julie, testified before the Senate Subcommittee of the US. UU. For Science, Technology and Space on the photo and his experience with intrauterine surgery.

Today, Samuel is almost 14 years old and has not had to deal with the usual operations that are common for children with spina bifida. He has orthopedic legs, is cognitively normal, and loves to look for insects.

Alex Armas 3

Matt Drudge

In 1999 Matt Drudge featured a nightly space on Saturdays on television called Drudge on the Fox news network . In November of 1999 tried to show the photo of Samuel in his program of Fox News , but the chain did not allow it. This caused his abandonment of the series reason why he considered that it was an act of censorship on the part of the chain. Fox executives did not want to show the photo because they feared Drudge would use them to support pro-life arguments. They said that would lead to confusion because the photo had nothing to do with the abortion, but with an emergency operation in a fetus with spina bifida . 4


The photograph attracted a lot of attention because, when published, it was used by abortion opponents who claimed that the baby reached the doctor’s hand by removing the uterus itself, thus showing signs of life in the 21st week of pregnancy. Certainly photography and many of the accompanying texts support this view, including for its part the author of the photo Michael Clancy:

While a doctor was asking me what film sensitivity I was using, I saw the side of my eye shake from the side of my eye, without anyone’s hand being around. It stirred from within. Suddenly, an entire arm came out through the opening, then to withdraw until only a small hand was visible. The doctor caught up with her and lifted her, reacting, and taking the doctor’s finger. As if testing his strength, the doctor waved his little fist. Samuel held on. And I took the photo. Wow!

It happened so fast that the nurse next to me asked, “What happened?”

“The boy came out,” I said.

“Ah! They do it constantly,” she replied.

– Michael Clancy 5

The surgeon later stated that both Samuel and his mother Julie were under the effects of anesthesia and that it was a real miracle to move.

“The baby pulled out his arm,” Dr. Bruner said. 6

He also stated that “Depending on your political point of view, you can see this as Samuel Armas out of the uterus and touching the finger of another person, or like myself pulling his hand from the uterus … that’s what I did.” 7

Clancy argues that Dr. Bruner, head of surgery at Vanderbilt, initially corroborated his description of the event but later denied that the child moved on his own. Referring to Fig.

Cultural References

The event was referenced in two medical-themed TV series: the drama House , in the episode Fetal Position , and the comedy Scrubs , in the episode My Way to Nowhere .


  1. Back to top↑ «Famous Pictures Magazine – unborn babies’ hand Out» (HTML) . Famous Pictures Magazine. 2007 . Accessed August 17, 2007 .
  2. Back to top↑ Barbara and David P. Mikkelson (September 3, 2006). «Urban Legends Reference Guide – The Hand» (HTML) . pub . Accessed August 17, 2007 .
  3. Back to top↑ Jonathan Imbody (2007). «A ray of life» (HTML) . Archived from the original on November 18, 2015 . Accessed August 17, 2007 .
  4. Back to top↑ Howard Kurtz (November 15, 1999). «The Going Gets Tough, and Matt Drudge Gets Going» (html) . The Washington Post . Accessed July 29, 2007 .
  5. Back to top↑ Michael Clancy (2007). «Story» (HTML) . Michael Clancy . Archived from the original on November 18, 2015 . Accessed August 17, 2007 .
  6. Back to top↑ Davis, Robert. “The hand of a fetus touches the world.” USA Today. 2 May 2000 (page D8)
  7. Back to top↑ “The photo of fetal surgery still exudes emotions.” The Tennessean Newspaper, January 9, 2000
  8. Back to top↑ [1] Postedon March 16, 2009.