Colorado boy overcoming difficult pre-birth prognosis thanks to new procedure


DENVER (KDVR) — A pregnant woman’s fetus was diagnosed with spina bifida and after a discouraging prognosis, she traveled to California for a brand-new procedure and operation to treat her unborn child.

When single mom Stephanie Morley had her 20-week checkup with her obstetrician, the news hit her like a bolt out of the blue.

“The defect was so severe, they just said the back is like a 2D image with a line. It starts and it stops and his whole back is exposed and open,” she said.

Doctors told her that her baby, still in the womb, had what sometimes is called the snowflake disease: spina bifida.

“Every single case is different; it affects people very differently,” she said.

Spina bifida is a birth defect in which there is incomplete closing of the spine and the membranes around the spinal cord during pregnancy. The prognosis wasn’t good. 

“With the size of his defect, he would definitely be in a wheelchair all his life,” Morley said.

But through the shock, sadness and apprehension, Morley was told about a brand-new procedure by a doctor in Pasadena, California.

“There’s a guy out in California who’s doing this pilot study and I don’t know if they would accept you because you are out-of-state,” Morley recalls being told.

Well, they did. The odds of success were unknown, but that didn’t stop Morley. With baby in belly, she hopped a plane.

“They would go in with little tiny incisions, and it’s a non-invasive way to go through the abdomen and uterus to then correct the defect of the spina bifida,” Morley said.

The ground-breaking operation worked. Now, Benjamin George Morley has a much better prognosis.

“He wasn’t supposed to move his legs at all now he’s wiggling his toes and kicking and doing wonderful things,” his mother said.

That bolt out of the blue turned out to be a blessing.

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