'Long road ahead' for Frey, husband

Son of WTAE anchor born with major brain defect

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WTAE morning news anchor Kelly Frey calls it "nothing short of a miracle."

Ms. Frey gave birth via caesarean section Tuesday morning to a son, Bennett Ryan, who had been diagnosed during her pregnancy with a severe form of holoprosencephaly, a major defect of brain formation where, instead of normal brain tissue, the skull is filled with extra cerebral spinal fluid.

Ms. Frey and husband Jason Luhn had been prepared for the worst, that Bennett may not live long after birth. But to their great relief, the baby has been breathing on his own since emerging into the world.

"It was a very calm and peaceful time in that operating room," Ms. Frey said yesterday. "We didn't know anything that instant but a couple of seconds later we heard that first cry and we knew something was kicking in in his little body. ... That first cry was the sweetest sound I've ever heard in my life.

"This is the best-case scenario we could have ever hoped for," she said.

Yesterday Bennett was expected to undergo surgery to help relieve pressure on his brain from the fluid buildup.

"We still have a long road ahead," Ms. Frey said before the surgery. "It's been in God's hands all along and it's been a miraculous journey."

Photos of Bennett's birth can be found on the Web site http://weddingsbyheather.com/blog/2009/09/bennett-ryan. The photos were taken by a local volunteer from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation, which offers photography services for the parents of children who are not expected to survive long after birth.

During Ms. Frey's maternity leave, Michelle Wright will fill in on WTAE's morning news until Janelle Hall returns from her maternity leave to sit in for Ms. Frey.

Contact TV editor Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv.


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