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

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

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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.”

Editor’s note. If you want to peruse stories all day long, go directly to nationalrighttolifenews.org.

In a groundbreaking medical achievement, a potentially fatal condition in a fetus was successfully treated in utero, allowing a California baby to go home healthy. The baby, Elianna, was diagnosed with alpha thalassemia major, a severe blood disorder that often results in death before birth. This condition leads to severe anemia and can cause heart failure and developmental impairments if not treated promptly.

The medical team at UC San Francisco (UCSF) undertook an innovative procedure, transplanting the mother’s stem cells directly into the fetus. This was part of the world’s first clinical trial using blood stem cells transplanted before birth. The procedure involved several in utero blood transfusions to stabilize the fetus, followed by the stem cell transplant. Dr. Tippi MacKenzie, a pediatric and fetal surgeon at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, led the pioneering transplant, aiming to ensure the mother’s stem cells would integrate into the fetus’s bone marrow and produce healthy blood cells (MIT Technology Review)​.

Alpha thalassemia major is especially prevalent among people from Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East. The fetus showed signs of hydrops fetalis, a life-threatening condition characterized by severe swelling and heart enlargement due to anemia. Early detection through an ultrasound allowed the team to plan and execute the life-saving intervention. The initial success of this trial offers hope for similar treatments for other severe fetal conditions​.

Elianna’s successful birth and subsequent discharge from the hospital underscore the potential of in utero stem cell therapy as a viable treatment option for severe fetal disorders. This procedure marks a significant advancement in fetal medicine and could pave the way for future treatments of genetic and blood-related conditions before birth​(MIT Technology Review)​.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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