NEWS | March 24, 2020

UC Davis Children's Hospital's first fetal surgery patient is a precocious three-year-old

(SACRAMENTO)

Still in his mother’s womb, Matthew Saeturn-Angeles’ parents were told he had hydrops, a condition involving an accumulation of fluid in his chest which can lead to stillbirth. During the previous three years, Bobby and Khae had dealt with infertility, miscarriage and the loss of a baby girl. Now their unborn son was facing a serious condition that threatened his life. The options were limited and risky. Fetal surgery seemed the best hope.

Fetal surgery patient Matthew Saeturn-Angeles is now a precocious three-year-old. Fetal surgery patient Matthew Saeturn-Angeles is now a precocious three-year-old.

“We had our concerns and questions, but ultimately, we wanted to do what was in the best interest of the baby and me,” said mom, Khae Saeturn.

At 32 weeks gestation, doctors at the UC Davis Fetal Care and Treatment Center made a small incision in Khae’s stomach and placed a shunt to drain fluid from Matthew’s chest. The surgery was a success and the first of its kind at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

The UC Davis Fetal Care and Treatment Center, the first of its kind in inland Northern California, is home to renowned experts provide highly specialized care for mother and baby before, during and after birth, all under one roof. In addition to surgical interventions, the Center also has an extensive fetal care research program, including stem cell and tissue engineering for several fetal diseases.

Matthew was born at 33 weeks and spent two months in the UC Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before going home to his family in Elk Grove.

When the time came for Matthew to be discharged, his parents could hardly believe it. “We just wanted to scream down the hallways, ‘We're going home!'” Saeturn said. “In the car, we took a picture of each other with the baby and thought, Is this really happening? We were going home.”

Now almost three and a half, Matthew is hitting all his milestones and is a boy who loves animals and has a huge heart.

“He is such a sweet boy. He is talking up a storm and has lots of energy,” says Bobby Angeles, Matthew’s dad. “Without that procedure, who knows where we’d be.”

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital providing care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for its critically ill patients, as well as a level I children’s surgery center. The 129-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. For more information, visit children.ucdavis.edu.