Bethany Weathersby and her husband Josh were raising two healthy boys in fall 2012 when she got pregnant with their third baby, a little girl. But at an early checkup, her OB shared harrowing news – Bethany tested positive for anti-Kell antibodies which could attack her daughter’s blood cells in the second and third trimester.
Bethany’s daughter was identified to have Kell positive blood, a rare blood type that caused Bethany’s anti-Kell antibodies to see the new baby as a foreign object. Doctors in Bethany’s home state of Alabama had little experience in treating the issue and were unable to reassure her of positive outcomes. Unfortunately, Lucy Weathersby was stillborn at 20 weeks in February of 2013.
In follow up visits to the hospital, doctors explained that with each subsequent pregnancy Bethany’s condition would likely become more severe. Her husband was heterozygous for the Kell antigen, which meant each of their children had a 50 percent chance of developing a blood type opposite from Bethany’s, causing endangerment to the baby.
Bethany and her husband were both eager to continue growing their family and were committed to learning more. Bethany began researching her condition and treatment options online. She also became well-versed in the options for managing Kell pregnancies, including intrauterine blood transfusions, plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).
Not long after, Bethany connected with Dr. Kenneth Moise of the Fetal Center at Children Memorial Herman Hospital, in Houston, Texas. He helped her understand treatment options, and in fall of 2014 Bethany was pregnant with another Kell positive girl.
Bethany relocated to Texas for the duration of her pregnancy to allow her to receive regular blood transfusions and close monitoring with Dr. Moise’s team. On July 19, 2015, baby Nora was born healthy at 38 weeks.
Thrilled at the outcome, Bethany spoke with Dr. Moise about treatment for future pregnancies. He recommended she connect with Dr. Thomas Trevett of Northside Hospital’s Center for Perinatal Medicine, who had trained under Dr. Moise and was an expert in treatment for Kell pregnancies. He also practiced in Atlanta, which was only a four-hour drive from Bethany’s home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This meant she would not have to move away from her family during the pregnancy.
Bethany’s first meeting with Dr. Trevett put her at ease. Despite struggling to trust maternal-fetal medicine specialists after her traumatic experience with Lucy, she had been happy with her treatment with Dr. Moise and now felt fully confident about moving forward with treatment with Dr Trevett.
“He made me feel very comfortable, because his whole protocol for these cases was exactly what I had been researching,” she said. “He was very encouraging and even believed there could be a good outcome, which was refreshing because so many doctors had said the opposite to us over the years.”
In 2017, Bethany was pregnant with a baby boy and began driving up to Northside Hospital for weekly ultrasound appointments. In the months to follow, she had three intrauterine blood transfusions, a week of plasmapheresis at the infusion center and spent two separate weeks in inpatient for additional tests and monitoring.
“Throughout my pregnancy, the whole staff was so patient with me. They worked with me, and were sensitive to my needs,” she said.
Intrauterine fetal blood transfusions are often done in an exam room, but because of Bethany’s nerves, she requested they set up in an operating room (OR).
“Dr. Trevett has a unique bedside manner,” Bethany said. “He really listens to his patients and cares about what they are feeling and thinking. He took my concerns seriously and helped me form that trust in doctors again.”
On September 11, Bethany drove up to Northside Hospital Atlanta for her final transfusion, but a storm knocked out local power and the procedure was delayed. Two days later, she went in for her fourth intrauterine blood transfusion. While prepping her for the procedure Dr. Trevett noticed that the baby was going into distress and he decided to perform an emergency C-section to ensure the baby survived.
Bethany’s husband was four hours away so he missed the delivery. Thankfully, Northside nurses borrowed Bethany’s phone to capture photos from the delivery.
“Everyone was so nice, so I didn’t feel alone at such an important moment,” she said.
n September 13, 2017, Callum Joseph Thomas Weathersby was born at 34 weeks and 4 days, at the Northside Hospital Atlanta campus. Thomas was chosen as Callum’s middle name to honor Dr. Trevett and his dedication to Bethany’s care.
Callum spent two and half weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Northside Hospital Atlanta before being discharged. Dr. Trevett still stays in touch with the family today.
The Weathersbys are now a happy, healthy family of six. Bethany recently started a nonprofit, The Allo Hope Foundation, to raise awareness of and resources for families facing this disease. She hopes sharing her story will bring hope and healing to other families in similar situations, and maybe lead them to Northside Hospital.
“Working with Dr. Trevett brought a lot of healing for me and my family,” Bethany said. “He is skilled, humble and kind, and I would recommend Northside to anyone seeking care.”