Mother Kisses 10-month Old Baby Born Without Skin for First Time After Life-Saving Transplant

The mother of a 10-month-old child born without skin on most of his body was finally able to kiss her baby after a life-saving transplant, according to reports.

Earlier this year, doctors successfully grafted skin onto the areas of the child's body where it was missing, meaning that his mother, Priscilla Maldonado, could hold him skin-to-skin for the first time, KTRK reported.

Ja'bari Gray was born on New Year's Day in San Antonio, Texas, via an emergency Caesarean section 37 weeks into Maldonado's pregnancy. He weighed just three pounds and only had skin on his head, face and parts of his legs. The rest was missing.

Since then, he has spent his entire life in hospital as a result of his condition, which doctors have not been able to identify.

"It was just red. Bright red," Gray's mother Priscilla Maldonado, 25, told the Today show. "You could see all his veins [through it,] everything was exposed."

Given Gray's condition and the fact that he was experiencing reductions in his heart rate and not gaining weight, doctors at a San Antonio hospital considered turning off the baby's life support. But his mother fought to have him transferred to another hospital. Eventually, in April, he was taken to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston—the only place that would accept him.

"If it wasn't his purpose to be here, he would have been gone from birth or even before birth, so he does have a purpose in this world and we never know what it is until the future," Maldonado said.

Against all odds, Gray is still alive, unlike the only other two babies who have been born with this condition in the United States, neither of whom survived very long.

"[His name] actually means fighter and warrior, and that name was given to him by his grandfather, which we didn't even know what his condition was, and come to find out, it fits exactly what he's going through," Maldonado told KTRK.

For the transplant—the first of its kind in a child of this age and with this condition—doctors grafted skin onto Gray which had been grown by a pharmaceutical company that normally provides skin for burn victims. The skin was grown using cells that doctors collected from the baby's ear.

Doctors have now taken Gray—who currently weighs around 18 pounds—off his pain medication and have removed his breathing tube.

"Now you can kiss him, touch him, do all that stuff," Maldonado said. "He got to wear his first set of clothes now, so he's getting there."

The mother has already noticed the benefits that skin-to-skin contact with her child can provide.

"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 said.

Despite the successful transplant, Gray has several other complications which doctors still need to address.

For example, several parts of his body, including his eyelids, fingers and toes have become fused together. His neck is also still fused to his chest. Surgeons opened his eyelids on two occasions, however, they have since fused together again. Nevertheless, his condition is slowly improving and the family are counting down the days until he is allowed to go home.

It is still unclear what condition Gray is suffering from. Previously, doctors suggested that he may have had Epidermolysis bullosa—a group of rare genetic disorders that can cause the skin to become very fragile. However, genetic tests of his parents showed that this was not the case.

hospital ward
Stock photo: Ja'bari Gray was born without skin on much of his body. iStock