Mom undergoes experimental oxygen therapy at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford to save unborn baby

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- The first-ever oxygen therapy given to a mom and her unborn child who had a rare heart defect turned out to be more successful than doctors could have ever imagined.

Linda and Jose Luna were thrilled to start a family when they got the devastating news their baby had a heart defect and had a low chance of survival. But after two months at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, he's finally home.

Against all odds, Baby Liam shouldn't be here, but he is.

"When we came here, you know, they told us same thing -- 10 percent survival and the 90 percent mortality rate," said Linda. "But we consented to take on any aggressive treatment."

The treatment ended up being none other than oxygen to help Liam survive until birth. He was diagnosed with Ebstein's anomaly that meant he had an enlarged heart and leaky valves.

"We have been, along with other physicians across the world, trying to address the situation," said Dr. Theresa Tacy, a pediatric cardiologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Linda was given oxygen for three weeks, 12 hours a day. Mom and son are the first patients in the world to ever be treated with oxygen therapy in this case.

"So I would just lay there in bed with oxygen and talk to him and I would tell him -- when you come out I need you to breathe and I need you to fight," said Linda.

The oxygen worked. But when Liam was born, the battle was far from over. He had to be hooked up to an ECMO machine for 10 days before he would have his heart reconstructed. The chances for survival now 50/50. And the outcome, again, was nothing short of a miracle.

"He's remarkable little boy," said Dr. David Axelrod, a cardiologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Liam's dad says throughout it all, they never gave up hope.

"I made a vow to stay strong for him," said Jose.

It's their faith that got them through. And now both parents get to enjoy being at home with their son.

"The one thing I look forward to is waking up with him in the middle of the night crying, changing diapers," said Linda. "I look forward to those things."

Click here for more stories about life-saving surgeries at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.
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