A first-of-its-kind surgery at UC Davis Children’s Hospital had a happy ending just in time for the holidays. Doctors are celebrating a successful fetal surgery on a baby boy while he was still growing inside the womb.
Bobby Angeles and Khae Saetern named their little boy Matthew, which means “a gift from God.” It’s a fitting name when you consider the loss they’ve experienced and the loss they almost faced.
In the last three years, they’ve dealt with infertility, miscarriages, a baby girl who was stillborn. Then their unborn son had a serious conditionthat threatened his life.
“Every moment, I am thinking when I’m driving, ‘Please God. Just take care of my son. Please God,’” Angeles said.
Matthew Tobias Saetern-Angeles was not expected to make it. But now two months later, he’s sporting a hearty head of hair and sleeping like a champ.
“We just wanted to scream down the hallways, we’re going home! we’re going home! In the car, we took a picture of each other with the baby. We’re on our way home, this is really happening,” Angeles said.
While still developing in the womb, Matthew was diagnosed with hydrops, which creates excess fluid in the chest. The options for the soon-to-be-born baby boy seemed to be beyond the scope of modern medicine.
That’s when doctors at UC Davis Children’s Hospital stepped in with a suggestion that was both high risk and high reward.
“Everything happened so fast, so you really don’t have time to digest everything,” Saetern said. “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.”
At 32 weeks, doctors made a small incision in Saetern’s stomach and used a catheter to drain the fluid from Matthew’s chest, completing the hospital’s first successful fetal surgery.