Doctors operate on infant girl with ambiguous genitalia

The baby was born in the center of the country with outer genitals that do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl.

May 12, 2015 06:42
1 minute read.

Bnai Zion Medical Center. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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A two-year-old girl was released from hospital this week after undergoing the surgical removal of male genitalia – leaving her female sex organs – in a rare operation at Haifa’s Bnai Zion Medical Center.

Prof. Igor Sochotnik, who led the team in the five-hour operation, said it was one of the most complex operations ever carried out in Israel.

The baby was born in the center of the country with outer genitals that do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl, a congenital defect called “ambiguous genitalia.”

“This condition is genetic and occurs usually in children of consanguineous parents [first cousins who marry and have children],” “said Sochotnik.

A baby inherits one pair of sex chromosomes – one X from the mother and one X or one Y from the father. The father “decides” the genetic sex of the child: a baby who inherits the X chromosome from the father is a genetic female (two X chromosomes), and a baby who inherits the Y chromosome from the father is a genetic male (one X and one Y chromosomes).

The extent of the ambiguity varies; in very rare instances, the physical appearance may be fully developed as the opposite of the genetic sex. For example, a genetic male may have developed a vagina, while the genetic female has a penis.

Bnai Zion’s Sochotnik was assisted by Prof. Daniel Teitelbaum, who is program director of the pediatric surgery residency program at the University of Michigan Health System.

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