LOS ANGELES, CA - For the first time doctors in southern California perform a procedure in utero to increase the chances a child would survive open-heart surgery after he was born.
Smiling and soaring -- but Grayson's parents didn't always know if he'd make it this far.
20 weeks into pregnancy, Samantha Davila’s doctor noticed what looked like small tumors in Grayson.
Marco Davila, Grayson’s father, said, “We didn't decorate his nursery until he was born - because we were like 'how much can we handle?'”
“The doctor is looking at the echo trying to determine the gender. And he starts focusing. And we said, 'What are you seeing? What's the matter?'”
But what Samantha and Marco were seeing weren't tumors.
Grayson had a rare heart problem. The entire left side of it hardly existed.
Samantha said, “You go from a survival rate of almost 70 to 15. And you're sitting there with what do you do with 15 percent? “
Dr. Frank Ing and his team at Children's Hospital Los Angeles had to operate on Grayson while he was in his mother's womb - using a needle to place a stent in his heart - to keep his smaller heart chambers open wide enough.
Dr. Ing said, “The procedure is complicated mostly because you're working through another body to get to the fetus. That's number one - so you are far from your target.”
The images doctors had of Grayson were just shadows and outlines created through an ultrasound.
And the surgery would be tricky.
“There has to be some precision, but it also has to be done quickly,” Dr. Ing said.
The first surgery went off fine, but later -- after Grayson was born -- another surgery took a scary turn.
Grayson went into cardiac arrest
“It's a scary ride. And I just prayed - hold on long enough so mom can see you. Cause that's all I ask. Just hold on so mom can see you. And if you want to go back to heaven... ok,” Marco said.
Grayson pulled through for Samantha to see him.
And even though she knows he'll face more challenges through his life ---
“He might not be the linebacker on the football team - but he might be able to play a lot of golf with dad,” Samantha said.
The boy born with half a working heart gives his parents more love than they could have ever imagined.