A team of seven Swedish doctors has carried out the first open-womb surgery in Europe to save a baby boy not yet born, medical authorities said Friday.

Doctors at the Astrid Lindgren hospital in Stockholm opened the woman's womb and operated on the boy's throat, which had grown together, one month before he was due to be born."We carried out an operation to the boy's airway. As far as I know, it was the first one in Europe," surgeon Bjorn Frenckner told Reuters. "It was the umbilical cord that kept the boy alive while we operated."

The surgeon said the malformation of the throat, called congenital airway obstruction syndrome (CAOS), was extremely rare and would have meant certain death at birth if they had not operated.

"He would have died," Frenckner said. "So we had to clear the airway before birth."

A midwife discovered something was wrong with the unborn boy during an ultrasound check. Doctors then found the baby had unusually large lungs and saw that the airway was blocked.

The surgeon cut open the woman's womb Sept. 23 and pulled out the boy's head enough to operate for 19 minutes.

Once the operation was completed, the doctors pulled the boy out of the womb and cut the umbilical cord. Since the operation one week ago, the boy is in a respiratory machine and is doing well.