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Amazing Picture / I normally don't get into things like this, but........


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I thought this was pretty amazing. IF posted already, sorry for the redo.

********* The picture is graphic so if your queasy don't look.********

A picture began circulating in November. It should be "The Picture of the

Year," or perhaps, "Picture of the Decade." It won't be. In fact, unless

you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably will

never see it. The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named

Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a 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


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 little Samuel, the little guy reached his

tiny, but fully developed, hand through the incision and firmly grasped

the surgeon's finger. In a Time Europe article highlighting new

pregnancy imagery that show the formation of major organs and other

significant evidence of the formation of human life but a few days after

conception, 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 my pregnancy isn't

about disability or an illness, it's about a little person." Samuel was

born in perfect health, the operation 100 per cent successful. Now see

the actual picture, and it is awesome...incredible. And hey, pass it on.

The world needs to see this one!

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That is something, however this is a typical set up for an urban legend. An anti abortion one.

But....turns out this is true! (for the most part)


Hand of Hope

Part 3: Analysis

More of this Feature

• Part 1: Email Text

• Part 2: The Photo

This amazing photo, taken by Michael Clancy and originally published in USA Today and The Tennessean on September 7, 1999, is authentic. It began circulating via email within weeks of its first appearance in newspapers.

The accompanying text is basically accurate, as well. The photo was taken during a surgery performed by Dr. Joseph Bruner and Dr. Noel Tulipan at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville on August 19, 1999 to treat a 21-week-old fetus for spina bifida. The operation was a success, and three months later a healthy Samuel Alexander Armas was delivered by C-section.

Doubts have been raised about the assertion that the fetus actually reached out of the opening in the womb to grasp the surgeon's finger, however, inasmuch as there are at least three different accounts of precisely what happened at that moment, two of them from eyewitnesses:

Email text: "During the surgery on little Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed, hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger."

Photographer Michael Clancy: "Samuel came out from under anesthesia too soon and thrust his clenched fist out of the surgical opening to his mother's womb. In my opinion, Samuel was in pain. Dr. Joseph Bruner reached over and gently lifted Samuel's hand, and Samuel reacted by squeezing the doctor's finger."

Surgeon Joseph Bruner: "Depending on your political point of view, this is either Samuel Armas reaching out of the uterus and touching the finger of a fellow human, or it's me pulling his hand out of the uterus ... which is what I did."

Perhaps it all boils down to semantics. Dr. Bruner has stated elsewhere that Samuel's hand "appeared" in the uterine opening before he reached out and lifted it, lending credence to photographer Clancy's account. In any case, though it appears the email does exaggerate when it says the fetus "reached ... through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger," something close to that really did happen.

Such quibbles don't lessen the impact of the photograph itself, which Dr. Bruner has described as "powerful" and Michael Clancy calls "miraculous." It should come as no surprise that both the image and Samuel Armas' success story have figured prominently in the abortion debate ever since.

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