Texas Baby Born Without Skin Due to Mysterious Condition Doctors Have Never Seen Before

A mother whose baby was born without skin has described the moment she first saw his "bright red" flesh, caused by a mysterious condition which doctors have never encountered before. But over seven months after Ja'bari Gray was born, doctors hope he will be able to leave intensive care and go home for the first time next month.

Ja'bari came into the world on January 1, 2019, at 11:40 a.m. at Methodist hospital in Houston, Texas, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the child. His mother's pregnancy was normal up until her fetus stopped gaining weight. So at 37 weeks Priscilla Maldonado's doctors decided to induce labor. The morning of the procedure, his heart rate dropped, so medics performed an emergency C-section.

Soon it became clear that Ja'bari—who weighed just 3 pounds—didn't have skin on most of his body, and his eyes were fused shut, his mother wrote. Ja'bari had skin on his head, face, and some of his legs but not his back, chest, shoulders or arms, Today reported.

Maldonado told Today of seeing her son's skin for the first time: "It was just red. Bright red. You could see all his veins [through it], everything was exposed."

"You know, you expect people to be happy after you have a baby and I had no idea until they put me in a room and explained what was going on," Maldonado told NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio. "I was just confused, lost. I didn't know what was going on. What was going to happen."

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A stock image of a baby in an incubator. Ja'Bari Gray has spent his whole life in an intensive care unit in hospital.

After doctors in San Antonio advised he be taken off life support, his parents took him to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston in April, his mother told Today. The family had to foot the bill of the transfer and hospital stay as the insurance company said Maldonado was "out of network," she told NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio.

Ja'bari's short life has been full of ups and downs. Maldonado has been able to hold him just twice, Today reported. A breathing machine has kept him alive, and he has had two surgeries to open up his fused eyes. In May he had skin grafts. After his eyes shut again, doctors said earlier this month they wouldn't operate again as each procedure causes scars.

But Ja'bari, whose name means "fighter" or "valiant" in Swahili, has also gradually been gaining weight, and is being weaned off pain medication. Doctors hope to remove his breathing tube so he can go home in August, according to his GoFundMe page.

Still, Doctors aren't sure what has caused his condition. They thought he might have Epidermolysis bullosa, a rare group of inherited skin disorders. The condition makes the skin fragile and easy to blister. But his parents weren't carriers of the genes.

"The skin disorder he has is so very rare that no Dr has ever seen it before and is very hard to treat with lil to no info at all," Maldonado explained on GoFundMe.

So far, the family has raised over $96,000 to pay for Ja'bari's care.

Texas Children's Hospital told Today in a statement: "A multidisciplinary team of experts at Texas Children's Hospital continues to work together to care for Ja'bari Gray's complex needs."

The boy is in a "critical condition" as he recovers from skin graft surgery in May.