Meet Micah: A Family’s Fight over Non-Immune Fetal Hydrops

BT & Mary Michael Kelley were blessed with a healthy, uneventful pregnancy in 2009 when they had their first child, their oldest son Thomas. In 2010, they discovered they were expecting their second child. However, in April of 2011, they got news that changed their lives forever. Their second child, their daughter Kathryn, was very sick. She was diagnosed with non-immune fetal hydrops of unknown origin. Non-immune fetal hydrops has a 10% survival rate. This meant Kathryn had unusual and excessive amounts of swelling in her skin, as well as fluid in her lungs. It also caused a complication called polyhydramnios for Mary Michael, where the fluid built up in her to where she was ultimately the size of someone carrying full-term quadruplets.  Kathryn was born at 36 weeks extremely sick. Doctors and medical professionals worked and worked to determine the cause of Kathryn’s illness, but unfortunately it was too late, and she died at 12 days old. Understandably crushed, the Kelleys found comfort in Kathryn’s autopsy report that her cause of death was assumed to be a structural defect unlikely to ever happen again.

In May of 2012, three days after what would have been Kathryn’s first birthday, they found out they were expecting their third child. All was going well until their 18-week ultrasound, when their son Micah presented with the same sickness and symptoms as Kathryn’s. He had excessive swelling and edema, and fluid throughout his lungs leading to the same diagnosis: non-immune fetal hydrops. At this point, the Kelleys decided to pursue intrauterine intervention with the assistance of their Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor at Brookwood Baptist, Dr. Antonio Gonzales. Dr. Gonzales inserted fetal thoracic shunts into Micah’s chest cavity to drain the fluid off his lungs for the remainder of the pregnancy. However, Mary Michael’s water broke at 27 weeks, and she was hospitalized. At 29 weeks, on Thanksgiving night, Mary Michael suffered a placental abruption and Baby Micah was born by emergency c-section with an APGAR score of 1. He was immediately intubated, had chest tubes inserted, and shortly after delivery doctors warned the Kelleys that Micah was not going to survive. But Micah was a fighter, and that would make all the difference. With a lot of help from medical staff who believed in him, plus utilization of the latest treatments and therapies including nitrous oxide therapy and steroid therapy — at 6 weeks old, the boy who was not supposed to live, came off the ventilator. He spent a total of 8 months in the hospital: four months at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, and four months at Children’s of Alabama, where he continued to grow and get better.

Micah went home on July 9, 2013, on oxygen therapy, and gets the majority of his feeds by g-tube. He is now 16 months old, weighs 23 pounds, sits up, plays with his brother, takes classes at The Bell Center, laughs, and loves life. Micah is a true miracle and has inspired many people. The Kelleys live in Homewood where they are active with March of Dimes’ March for Babies through their team, “Marching for Kathryn & Micah.” Follow Micah’s story on Facebook’s “Waiting for Micah.”

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