Family travels to TX Children's for lifesaving fetal surgery

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It can be an exciting time for anyone expecting a child, but that joy may quickly turn to fear if there's a problem during pregnancy. That's what one mother from Louisiana experienced early on in with her unborn son, and the only option was to seek care four hours away in Houston.

On Oct. 31, baby Eli will be five months old, but his journey getting here was nothing short of a miracle. It all started during Lacey Prejean's 12-week pregnancy appointment.

"At my regular OB back at home, we discovered he had a very enlarged bladder," Prejean said.

Sill in the womb, baby Eli was diagnosed with a lower urinary tract obstruction. It's an extremely rare birth defect that occurs in approximately two in every 10,000 births, most often in males.

Dr. Alireza Shamshirsaz is the maternal fetal medicine specialist and fetal surgeon at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women. He said, "All the fluid around the baby is coming from baby urine. When the baby cannot pee there's no fluid around the kid."

Dr. Shamshirsaz said Eli's lungs were not developing and it was life threatening. Fetal surgery was performed and an amniotic shunt was put in.

"This is a shunt that's guided through the ultrasound. That was successful and helped the fluid around the baby at the time of being in the womb," Dr. Shamshirsaz explained.

Eli was born close to term, but that would only be the next chapter in his long road to survival.

"His lungs were very underdeveloped, so he was on an oscillator, a ventilator," Prejean said. "Just tubes and wires everywhere and I did not know from day to day, second to second what would happen."

Eli's kidneys were only functioning at only 10 percent as well and he continues to be on dialysis today. When he's two, they may look at options for a kidney transplant. But right now, their goals are one step at a time, and that's going back home to Louisiana.

"I'm thinking we may be home by Christmas, and they may happen if things go as planned," Prejean told us.

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