July 29, 2013 11:45 pm • By Erik Olson / The Daily News
Southwest Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler announced Monday that she gave birth two weeks ago at a Portland hospital to a baby girl, who was born with an often fatal kidney condition and will need a transplant.
The baby girl, Abigail Rose Beutler, was born about nine weeks premature at 3:13 a.m. July 15 and is under care at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in California, according to Herrera Beutler and her husband, Daniel Beutler. Abigail is breathing on her own but requires dialysis and will eventually need new kidneys to survive, the couple said in a written release.
Herrera Beutler announced in early June that the baby had been diagnosed with a rare condition known as Potter’s Syndrome, caused by a lack of developing kidneys known as bilateral renal agenesis.
Without kidneys, the fetus cannot produce the amniotic fluid that keeps the body warm, helps lungs develop and prevents body parts from growing together, according to doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where Herrera Beutler sought treatment.
Doctors said most fetuses with Potter’s Syndome can’t breathe and are stillborn, and they believe Abigail is the first baby to survive this long with a diagnosis of Potter’s Syndrome.
Herrera Beutler said she sought a third opinion and specialized treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She underwent an uncommon treatment called serial amnioinfusion, where a saline solution is injected into the womb in place of the missing amniotic fluid. She said she underwent the treatments five times before going into labor.
Herrera Beutler said she could see on the ultrasound that the treatment helped the infant’s head, chest and feet form properly.
“There was no way to know if this treatment would be effective or to track lung development, but with hearts full of hope, we put our trust in the Lord and continued to pray for a miracle,” she and her husband said in a statement.
At 16 hours old, the baby was transported from Emanuel Legacy Hospital in Portland to the Stanford hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., where she is undergoing kidney dialysis. Doctors at the hospital say they are “cautiously optimistic” about Abigail’s future.
Dr. Jessica Bienstock, who led the John Hopkins team who performed the serial amnioinfusions, said the case was “unprecedented” but warned the procedure might be less successful for other babies with similar conditions.
“Hopefully science will evolve to the point where we will be able to save babies with this defect. But so far this is just one isolated case whose ultimate outcome is still unknown,” Bienstock said in a statement supplied by Herrera Beutler’s office.
Herrera, a 34-year-old Republican from Camas, is serving her second term in Congress. Her office said the family will be available for media interviews at a later date.
News of the birth spread rapidly through social media and online news sites Monday, popping up as as far away as England. On Herrera Beutler’s Facebook page, dozens of people expressed support.
“Congrats on joining the club of preemie parents! Every child is a miracle, but those preemies are incredible!,” wrote Aly Cayo of Vancouver, who said her baby was also born premature.
Former Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna wrote, “Marilyn (his wife) and I join friends of Jaime and Dan Beutler around the country in celebrating the miraculous birth of their daughter, Abigail. It is an amazing, hopeful story.”