Potentially fatal condition remedied in utero, California baby now home and healthy

By Dave Andrusko

Khae Saetern-Angeles and husband Bobby, with their son, Matthew (Photo: ABC10)

Khae Saetern-Angeles and husband Bobby, with their son, Matthew (Photo: ABC10)

It would be impossible to imagine the heartache experienced by Khae Saetern-Angeles and husband Bobby when they learned their unborn son had deadly amount of fluid in his chest.

They had battled years of infertility, according to Monica Jacquez of ABC 10, and in the last three years had already lost two babies to miscarriage and a baby girl who was stillborn.

“It was terrifying,” said Bobby. “To think that something could happen and not being able to be there if I needed to.”

The diagnosis of hydrops fetalis was made during an ultrasound. The condition can cause fetal heart failure.

“Without relieving that [excessive fluid], he [baby Matthew] would not have survived the pregnancy,” Dr. Diana Farmer, fetal surgeon and chief of the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, told Sara Zendehnam of Fox 40.

“Everything happened so fast, so you really don’t have time to digest everything,” Khae explained to reporter Adrienne Moore of the CBS affiliate in Sacramento. “We had our concerns and we had our questions, but ultimately, we left it to the doctor to decide what was in the best interest of the baby and my health.”

In September, Dr. Shinjiro Hirose, performed the fetal surgery, the first for UC Davis Children’s Hospitals new Fetal Care and Treatment Center.

At 32 weeks, Dr. Hirose made a tiny incision in Khae’s abdomen and used a small catheter to drain the fluid. Khae was awake the entire time.

“I just prayed for everything to go right and for him to be ok,” Khae told Jacquez.

Matthew, which means a “gift from God,” was born September 28. “He’s a miracle,” Khae said. “He’s our miracle baby.”

(“Doctors found a mass in Matthew’s lung and believe that’s what caused his condition,” according to Zendehnam. “He’ll undergo another surgery in a couple of months to remove the mass and is expected to make a full recovery.”)

After two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UC Davis, Matthew went home, healthier than ever.

“As soon as we got in the car we took a picture of each other and with the baby, like we’re on our way home, this is really happening,” Bobby said.

Khae added, “We had the baby on board sign, and to walk in and place him in his crib that was an amazing feeling.”

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