Baby Luke

This family photo from shows baby Luke dressed up for Easter.

A 21-year old Army wife put her baby’s life first when doctors told her she was terminally ill early on in her pregnancy.

According to American Forces Press Services, doctors told Yesenia Ruiz-Rojo that she had about two to four months to live when she was diagnosed with liver cancer when she was 15 weeks pregnant.

More concerned with her pre-born child’s life than her own, Ruiz-Rojo turned down traditional treatments such as chemo therapy or surgery to remove the tumor which covered over 65 percent of her liver.


Her doctors knew the situation was serious because, according to research, an expectant mother with such an aggressive kind of cancer is not expected live long enough or be healthy enough to deliver the baby at full term.

After she refused chemo and surgery to save her baby’s life, a team of specialists including Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Raul Palacios and Army Col. (Dr.) Stephen Harrison at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas took on her case to provide treatment that would save both the mother’s and baby’s lives.

The team decided to use a new treatment called selective internal radiation therapy with Y-90. The treatment sends radioactive particles through the patient’s artery that feeds the tumor. The turmor then either shrinks or dies.

Thanks to her team of doctors’ creative thinking, Ruiz-Rojo was able to give birth to a healthy baby boy named Luke at 32 weeks.

Palacios called her case “a medical miracle.”

“She told us all she wanted was for her baby to live,” he said. “She was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.”

RuizRojo family

The Ruiz-Rojo family at their home in California.

Although the young mother still may not have long to live, she has been able to spend much more time with her family than was originally thought possible with relatively few symptoms.


Ruiz-Rojo is in hospice care in California near her family where she can spend time with her family, her husband, her stepson and their baby boy.

To read the full story, click here.