When hope was gone, parents turned to Google to save baby
By: Dr. Joette Giovinco, FOX 13 Medical Reporter - bio
TAMPA (FOX 13) -
Like many women, Kristen postponed having a family as she pursued her career.
"If you look at my story, I'm an older mom who is trying to get pregnant in my early 40s. I already had a miscarriage and I already tried in-vitro fertilization, which was unsuccessful," she said.
In early 2013, Kristen and her husband, Jeff, got good news.
"Miraculously, I got pregnant on my own ... I was ecstatic," she said.
Four months later, her storybook pregnancy turned into a nightmare. Kristen's cervix was shrinking, causing her to miscarry. To keep her unborn son from slipping out, doctors tried stitching her cervix closed. The procedure didn't work.
"There was nothing to stitch," Jeff recalled.
"All the doctors said it was impossible," Kristen said. "Three specialists basically told me either you are going to miscarry in the next few weeks, or you're going to have a severely premature infant. I thought, 'this cannot be my life. This cannot be my destiny.' I didn't think I was ever going to hold him."
This is not an ordinary couple. Kristen is a nurse practitioner and Jeff is a physician. Jeff said he was heartbroken as he left Kristen in her hospital bed.
That's when he began searching for answers. In spite of not being trained as an obstetrician, Jeff said, "I read all the OB journals, the medical journals, and did Google searches."
The search helped uncover a little-known procedure called a laparoscopic intraabdominal cerclage . It works like a gastric band that is used for weight loss. Instead of wrapping it around the stomach, surgeons place the band around the bottom of the womb, keeping the baby safe inside the uterus. It's only offered by a handful of doctors.
The closest willing to take the case was Dr. Richard Demir, near Phoenix, Ariz., almost 2,000 miles away.
Prior to her departure, Tampa doctors checked Kristen one last time before she headed to the airport. Jeff recalls his concern, hoping Kristen would not miscarry on the plane. Once they arrived in Phoenix, Kristen was rushed into surgery.
But the procedure does have some serious risks, including bleeding, infection, premature labor, and tearing of the cervix. Then there is the expense. In Kristen's case, it was covered by her health insurance. For others, it can cost thousands of dollars.
Four months later, and seven weeks early, Kristen went into labor. Because of the cerclage, babies must be delivered by cesarean section.
In November 2013, she said first hello to little baby Benjamin.
"He really almost wasn't here. He was lucky, he was really lucky little baby," Jeff said with a smile.
After three weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit, Benjamin went home, giving these new parents a profound sense of purpose.
"I wish and I pray that more and more women know about this procedure," Kristen said.
"If this video does nothing more than help one single mother that would not have been able to have her baby, then I think it's worthwhile to do," Jeff agreed.
As for the Hunts, keeping up with the little Benjamin is a full time job, but they love watching the son who they nearly lost.