Baby Macie Hope was Born Again

When the couple Chad and Keri McCartney refer to their daughter Macie Hope as Born Again, they were not referring to the religion. Macie Hope was born literally twice, the difference of her birth was 3 months. Confused? Yeah, I got that when I read her story, and it is really fascinating as well as amazing as a lot of people, especially the couple 'dubbed' this as indeed a miracle.

During Keri's six month's pregnancy, the doctors of Texas Children Hospital took the tiny fetus from her womb to remove a tumor. If the operation will not be done, the tumor will kill Baby Macie before she was born.

The operation was indeed remarkable, after another 3 months, Baby Macie Hope was born again. May 3, 2008 to be exact, the world welcomes a healthy baby girl.

“We were very, very fortunate. It really turned out perfectly.” Words were also amazing to hear being said by Dr. Darrell Cass. He is the fetal surgeon who led the team that performed a surgery that has been successfully completed fewer than 20 times around the world. He joined the happy couple when they appeared and talked exclusively to TODAY’s Ann Curry.

The story behind the miracle baby Macie Hope began in Keri’s 23rd week of pregnancy. The entire family went into their obstetrician’s office to discover the sex of the baby that Keri was carrying.

According to Chad as he tells the story with Curry, “We had our whole family. Our four kids had piled into the van, and we headed to our routine ultrasound to find out what the sex of the baby was going to be. That was the big discussion on the way up, so there was lots of excitement.”

Eager to see the image of the fetus displayed on the screen, everyone went into the ultrasound room. “All of a sudden the ultrasound tech had a very concerned look on her face,” Chad exclaims. “She rushed our kids out of the room and then informed us there was a large mass on our baby.”

What looked like a balloon growing out of Macie’s tailbone, the ultrasound image showed the tumor, it was devastating. It was full of blood vessels and was as big as the fetus itself. The tumor was noncancerous, yet still… it is deadly.

“This tumor was gigantic,” Cass exclaims as he recalls what happened that day. “It was the size of a grapefruit,” he added.

In all her years of practice, the McCartneys’ obstetrician had never seen such a tumor. After some research, she discovered that Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston was one of only three hospitals in the world that specialized in such conditions. Texas Children’s Hospital is six hours away from the family’s Laredo home.

According to Cass, “This is incredibly rare. It’s about one in 40,000 births. Many times, these tumors can grow and remain small and they don’t really affect the fetus very significantly. In Macie’s instance, this tumor grew incredibly rapidly … and basically it was stealing the blood that her body needed to grow. She would have died if nothing had been done.”

The couple went home with the desperate prognosis and decided they needed to name their infant right then.

“We both made a decision that we have a name for her, because we had been told that there was less than a 10 percent chance that she was going to make it,” Chad McCartney said. He is fighting back tears as he told the story, you can imagine how hard it is to endure such pain. “We wanted to pick a name that would be appropriate, so we named her Macie Hope — because that was all we felt we had.”

“Tricky”, this is how Cass described the surgery. This is an understatement. The couple went on with the surgery.

According to Cass, “It required that Mrs. McCartney went under a very, very deep anesthesia, about seven times deeper than the average operation. That’s necessary in order to have the uterus very, very relaxed.”

He and two other surgeons opened Keri’s abdomen and brought her uterus entirely outside her body. “We had to find an area of the uterus that we could open safely so that we didn’t disturb the placenta,” he explained.

When they found such a place, they opened the relaxed womb and extracted about 80 percent of Macie Hope’s body leaving just the head and upper body in the womb. Macie Hope weighed no more than a quarter of a pound. Exposing the fetus to the air carried the danger that she would go into cardiac arrest, and the surgeons worked quickly to remove the tumor and return Macie to the safety of the womb. The surgeons have no margin for error, they should perform as swift yet as perfect as possible.

That part of the four-hour procedure took about 20 minutes. The surgeons then had to carefully close up the uterus so that it would be watertight, to keep the amniotic fluid from leaking out.

According to Cass, “Then we had to hope that the pregnancy was going to last”.

That hope mentioned by Cass was also answered, accompanied with a lot of prayers. Macie Hope didn’t make it the entire nine months, but, Cass said, “The pregnancy lasted another 10 weeks, which allowed Macie to recover from this tumor that had been killing her.”

This time to stay, on May 3, Macie Hope was born again. She and her mother have remained at Texas Medical Center since as they both fully recover from the miracle surgery. Surgeons say can be repaired when she gets older, Macie still has a large scar on her backside.

It was indeed a miracle. A happening to prove that everything is possible in God’s will.

A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. - Eda J. Le Shan


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