A Bakersfield woman's heartfelt decision defied doctors' warnings and her infant daughter is alive because of her courage.
33-year-old Keyota Cole has congenital heart disease. Doctors told her, her condition could have killed her and her unborn baby during childbirth. But, she refused to give up.
A team of UCLA doctors guided her through the high-risk pregnancy, birth and risky open heart surgery for her baby girl.
For any mother, hearing a warning of a high-risk pregnancy is never easy. But, Keyota Cole made a courageous decision, she says, she'll never regret.
Just two months old, her baby girl has overcome far more than most grown ups experience in a lifetime.
Brandon Zachary says, "She's very special. She's my little miracle baby is what we call her."
When Brian Zachary and his fiancee Keyota Cole learned of her pregnancy, joy turned to worry.
"You could die, I don't want that in my hands. You could die so I can't see you anymore." That's what Cole's Bakersfield doctor told her. Cole's congenital heart disease has meant multiple surgeries to keep her alive. Doctors expected her baby to also have a heart condition. Cold was advised to abort the child.
"For one, I don't believe in abortions," she said. "And, I believe this is a miracle for me." That optimism and strength kept her going. "I wasn't gonna give up."
Cole and her fiance sought treatment from a team of doctors at UCLA Medical Center. The doctors explained the odds.
Dr. Jamil Adboulhosn says, "If you choose to keep the baby and risk that, there is a risk for you and the baby. I would be willing to do whatever I could."
A fetal cardiogram discovered Cole's baby had just one pumping chamber in her heart and would need surgery soon after birth... that's if mom and baby survived the childbirth.
"This is one of the high-risk operations that we do. Anywhere you have it done, this is one of the high risk operations," says Dr. Mark Sklansky, Chief of UCLA Medical Center's Division of Pediatric Cardiology.
The family survived the first hurdle with a successful delivery. But, six days later Cole and her fiance had to part with their baby girl. They waited six agonizing hours as doctors performed the first of three operations.
Sklansky says, "This is a very complex disease that just a few years ago would have likely been fatal."
The team of doctors performed open heart surgery. The baby survived, and doctors are pleased with her recovery. The couple soon left the hospital. They've returned for check-ups. So it's only fitting the couple chose a special name for their newborn girl.
"We put Faith on the paper," says Cole smiling. Faith Kianele Bradley Zachary. She's already vocal, looking around at this new world, a living testament to her parents' faith. "She's a miracle baby and she's a blessing."
Faith Zachary has two more surgeries ahead of her at UCLA Medical Center. Doctors say the first was the longest and riskiest.