Masen McPherson is now a beaming, bouncing month-old baby boy but he nearly died in his mother's womb just 17 weeks into her pregnancy.
Masen was diagnosed with rare complications from common human parvovirus while still in utero. Mother Kelly McPherson said a fever was her first clue that something might be wrong, and then an ultrasound revealed that the fetus was swollen with fluid.
"It looked like a halo around his head," said McPherson.
"This baby was dying in its mother's uterus," said Dr. Martin Chavez, chief of maternal medicine at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. Chavez recommended an intrauterine transfusion but not into the fetal abdominal cavity -- the most traditional method -- because it would take too long.
"The baby's heart was failing," he said.
Instead, using a thin needle about 8 inches long, Chavez transfused blood directly into the fetal heart, which was no bigger than a dime at that stage of development.
"The needle could have caused cardiac arrest," said Chavez, describing the risky nature of the procedure.
The tiny heart required only a tiny dosage, about two teaspoons, to produce almost immediate improvement. The baby went full term, and on Dec. 7, Kelly and Scott McPherson welcomed their second son into the world, after trying for seven years to have another baby.
"You do whatever it takes," said Scott McPherson.
"It's a miracle," said Kelly McPherson.