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'Miracle': Boston Doctors Perform First of Its Kind Brain Surgery on Unborn Baby

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A team of doctors in Boston performed a ground-breaking surgery on a baby still in the womb – the first of its kind in the U.S. And the parents say they had no doubt "God would perform a miracle."

Derek and Kenyatta Coleman were over the moon when they learned they were expecting their fourth child. For Kenyatta, 36, and Derek, 39, the first few weeks of the pregnancy were typical.

"Baby was doing well. The anatomy scan came back unremarkable. All of her biophysical profiles were all unremarkable," Kenyatta told CNN.

But during her 30-week ultrasound, Kenyatta learned that her daughter had a rare condition known as the vein of Galen malformation.

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The condition occurs when the blood vessel that carries blood from the brain to the heart, also known as the vein of Galen (VOGM), doesn't develop correctly. The malformation can cause blood vessel abnormalities, brain damage, and heart failure. 

In fact, by the time the baby was 30 weeks old, her heart was struggling and the malformation was getting dangerously large, CBS reports.

The Baton Rouge, LA couple enrolled in an FDA-approved clinical trial by Brigham and Women's and Boston Children's Hospital to save the baby's life. 

Despite the risk of preterm labor or brain hemorrhaging for the unborn child, the parents decided to trust God. 

"Derek and I are deeply rooted in our faith and we prayed hard for this," Kenyatta told WBZ-TV. "You know, there was no doubt in our minds that God would perform a miracle and he did, on a public platform using a little girl before she was even born. She made her mark on the world."

According to the journal Stroke, on March 15, Kenyatta underwent surgery – an ultrasound-guided procedure that was the first of its kind for this condition.

The surgeons ensured the baby was in the correct position in the womb and then began a procedure to slow the blood flow and reduce the pressure.

The baby showed signs of improvement immediately. 

"It was exhilarating at the moment that we had technical success at doing the embolization," Dr. Darren Orbach, a radiologist at Boston Children's Hospital told CNN. 

Doctors were still a little unsure of how things would progress through the rest of the pregnancy. But at 34 weeks, little Denver Colman was born at 4 pounds and 1 ounce.

"I heard her cry for the first time and that just, I – I can't even put into words how I felt at that moment," Kenyatta recalled. 

"I gave her a kiss and she was just making little baby noises and stuff," Derek said. "That was all I needed right there."

Two months later, Denver continues to thrive. 

She is not taking medication for heart failure and her neurological exams are normal. 

Her parents said she spends most of her time eating and sleeping.

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"She's shown us from the very beginning that she was a fighter," Kenyatta said, "she's demonstrated …'Hey, I wanna be here.' "

"The best part was when she was born, just seeing her in the NICU be fine and, you know, we would all sort of look at each other and pinch ourselves," Dr. Orbach said. "We were not sure when it was OK to celebrate because you just don't see that with these babies. So that was really the moment that we knew that all was going to be great."

"God used this beautiful little girl to battle test and reassure our faith," Derek wrote on Facebook. "Kenyatta and I are here to tell you that God is still in the miracle working business!"

"He is faithful to those who put Him first and whole heartedly trust and believe in His power," he added. "I give God every ounce of the glory and honor! He deserves all of that and more!"

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.