Real Stories: Meet Micah: A Family's Fight over Non-Immune Fetal Hydrops

Real Stories

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.

On July 9, 2013, at 16 months of age, Micah went home on oxygen therapy, receiving the majority of his feeds by g-tube. In the end, Micah was given 1,265 days. The world lost Micah on May 10, 2016. In his short life he laughed, loved, played with his brother, took classes at the Bell Center, and brought joy to all who knew and loved him.  Micah’s life was a true miracle and his legacy continues to inspire today. The Kelley’s live in Homewood where they continue to honor the lives of their children, Kathryn and Micah, through their March of Dimes’ March for Babies team, “Marching for Kathryn & Micah.” Follow Micah’s family on Facebook’s “Waiting for Micah.”

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