"As long as the mother's health is OK, and fetal health is OK as determined by monitoring and ultrasound, in order to avoid the complications of premature birth, we do them as close to the delivery date as is feasible," said Cole.
Turbeville said EXIT procedures are not uncommon. He does them about every other year, he said. Even though the procedure itself isn't rare, Benjamin Alonso's condition is.
"It's pretty unusual to see a tumor there, and it's also rare to see them large enough to obstruct the airway," he said.
"They're generally pretty uncommon birth defects that lead to these procedures," said Cole.
While Benjamin's prognosis has been good, doctors say how other babies fare depends on the nature of what caused them to have the procedure done in the first place. A blocked airway can be caused by a variety of problems, including tumors and genetic conditions.
EXIT procedures also don't generally pose a threat to the mother, unless she already has medical complications such as pre-eclampsia.
Claudia Alonso says she's thrilled that EXIT was a success for her and for Benjamin, whom she calls her "miracle baby." He's breathing on his own, and doctors think they'll be able to remove the feeding tube sometime soon.
His breathing tube came out on October 29, and he cried for the first time since he was born in May.
"I thought I was going to cry, too," his mother said.