After nearly a year in the hospital and countless skin grafts, 11-month-old Ja’bari Gray is finally home and recovering after he was born without skin on most of his body.
Gray’s mother, Priscilla Maldonado, shared the happy news on GoFundMe, where she was raising money for his extensive medical care. Maldonado shared two photos of his progress, and while he’ll still need additional surgeries, Gray is improving thanks to lab-grown skin that doctors grafted onto his body at Texas Children’s Hospital.
“I’m overwhelmed with happiness,” Maldonado, 25, told Today. “Everything is going fine. It’s working out a lot better than I expected.”
The mom called her son “perfect” and said that she’s thrilled to be able to do typical newborn activities with Gray now that he’s home, like giving him a bath in the tub and holding him regularly.
Only in October was Maldonado able to hold him skin-to-skin and give him kisses for the first time.
“It was heartwarming because he was crying when he was laying down, but as soon as I picked him up and had the skin-to-skin contact and put him on my chest, he just stopped crying,” she told ABC 13.
Gray was initially supposed to go home at the end of October, but doctors decided to keep him under observation until Nov. 13, when he was fully weaned off of his pain medication.
Maldonado never expected Gray to arrive without skin. He was testing normally throughout her pregnancy until her 37-week ultrasound, which showed that his heart rate had dropped and he wasn’t gaining weight. Doctors immediately performed an emergency C-section on Jan. 1, and didn’t expect Gray to survive life without most of his skin.
But Maldonado refused to “pull the plug” and pushed for his continued medical care, and doctors are still unsure why Gray was born without skin.
He still has a long way to go — Gray has already undergone two surgeries to open up his eyelids, but they’ve fused shut again both times. He’ll also need surgeries to separate his arms, right hand, right foot and neck.
But Maldonado, who has two other children, is just thrilled to have Gray at home.
“It feels like having a baby all over again — actually being able to take the baby home,” she told Today. “It’s like a dream come true, finally.”
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