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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mom Receives Devastating Diagnosis at 16 Weeks Pregnant: Doctor Urges Her to Abort, But She's Fighting for Daughter

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Rob Velez, a U.S. Marine veteran, and Zofia Fenrych from the U.K. are parents to a beautiful 2-year-old girl, Bathsheba. They were excited to see their second daughter, Dorothea, for the first time earlier this year at their 16-week ultrasound.

But that excitement and the initial joy upon seeing their baby on the screen quickly turned to devastation.

The radiographer was quiet, then told the couple something might be wrong. A specialist was called in.

“It went from this happy moment of seeing her for the first time to this abyss where we wondered what the issue might be,” Fenrych said, according to Insider.

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The couple soon learned their newest addition, just 16 weeks old, was basically missing a piece of her heart. The left side was underdeveloped, a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Immediately, the doctor encouraged the couple to terminate, saying the condition was horrible and the chance of survival without treatment and multiple surgeries was low.

Velez and Fenrych, who are Catholics, said they immediately knew that termination was not an option.

“She said it as if was such an easy thing — but we’d just seen our baby playing around in my belly,” Fenrych said. “We had love for her. It was like, ‘how could you suggest that straight away?'”

So they saw a fetal cardiologist, who explained the multiple surgeries that would be necessary starting just days after birth and said their daughter would likely need a heart transplant before her adult years — but he also said she would be able to have a normal childhood.

Buckling down and researching their baby’s condition, the couple braced themselves for the unforeseen circumstances, arming themselves with research and preparing to love their daughter the best they could.

But just a few short weeks later, at 24 weeks, the situation became much more urgent when another scan showed a blockage in Dorothea’s heart.

“On April 5th, we had a scan at Guy’s & St Thomas Hospital (UK),” the couple shared on their Just Giving page. “We learned that baby Dorothea’s condition has further complicated due to a ‘severe restriction’ that has been found. This blockage is creating an overflow into the lungs that is putting our baby’s life at serious risk, and will require an in vitro operation to unblock hole.”

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Sadly, there are no such operations available in the UK, and if the condition is not addressed before week 32, Dorothea will have a 5-10% chance at birth, and no surgery at that point would help.

However, hope for the family lies in Texas: Dr. Shaine Morris at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston has corrected this condition before and has agreed to treat Dorothea.

But the surgery comes with a staggering price tag. Initially, the treatment was quoted at $3.2 million, but the hospital has agreed to charge $2.7 total, leaving the family scrambling to come up with the funds before it’s too late.

So far the family has received around $46,000 in pledged donations, but are hoping for a miracle.

“We have faith in God and medicine, we pray that you may help us in doing so,” their Just Giving fundraiser states.

“Thank you for all the generous support of friends (New and old) and family that are trying to help us whichever way they can. Please include baby Dorothea in your prayers.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking