Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) stunned many when she announced in June 2013 that she and her husband were “praying for a miracle” after doctors diagnosed her unborn baby with Potter’s Syndrome, a fatal disorder.
“At a recent, routine ultrasound appointment we received the difficult news that our baby has a serious medical condition called Potter’s Syndrome,” Beutler wrote on her Facebook page at the time. “We have had a second opinion and the medical diagnosis was consistent with the initial news: there is no medical solution available to us. We are praying for a miracle.”
Flash forward three years and it’s clear that Beutler and her husband, Daniel, received that miracle they had so diligently sought. Despite reportedly being advised to consider an abortion, Beutler forged on with her pregnancy and delivered Abigail Rose Beutler on July 15, 2013, a baby who media outlets said at the time was likely the first child to survive Potter’s Syndrome.
Abigail’s diagnosis and survival have obviously captured quite a bit of attention, especially considering the fact that Beutler is a pro-life congresswoman who faced one of the fatal scenarios in which some women might opt for a late-term abortion rather than carry a child to term with such a fatal diagnosis.
In Abigail’s case, doctors at Johns Hopkins came up with a solution to help save the baby’s life; considering that Potter’s Syndrome results in a situation in which there’s low amniotic fluid in the womb, they injected saline solution around the unborn baby each week in an effort to replace that essential element.
Doctors initially weren’t certain the process would work, considering they were starting it quite late in Beutler’s pregnancy when lung development would have normally already begun (they discovered Potter’s Syndrome during a 20-week scan), but, in the end, it was most certainly successful. The first injection immediately showed viable results.
“As soon as fluid was introduced to her face you could watch her chest fluctuate in and out — she was practice breathing,” Daniel Beutler told KOIN-TV, with Jaime adding that the baby’s body began to properly fill out. “The head starting to right size, the chest flattening out appropriately, she started to unsquish.”
This experimental process, known as amnioinfusion, allowed the pregnancy to continue while Abigail’s lungs developed. In the end, the baby was born at 28-weeks with no kidneys, but was able to breathe on her own. Abigail was initially put on dialysis to assist with her lack of kidney function, as the Associated Press reported.
While doctors were “cautiously optimistic” two weeks after Abigail’s birth, calling her survival “unprecedented,” the miracle baby is now three years old and is thriving. And in February 2016, her father gave her one of his kidney — a successful move that has further improved her health.
Now, Abigail is thriving, with her parents encouraging others who face uphill battles not to give up.
“Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to raise those questions and advocate and find the doctor who will partner with you,” Daniel Beutler told KOIN-TV.
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