It was the worst moment of her life.
Just a few days earlier, U.S. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, had announced that she and her husband were expecting their first child, a baby girl. Then that joy was crushed at her 22-week ultrasound appointment, according to CBN News.
“’There is no chance your baby will live,’” Beutler remembered doctors saying after they discovered that her unborn daughter’s kidneys were missing. “’No baby has ever survived this.’”
Beutler and her husband were devastated. But they refused to give up hope, and they began praying for a miracle.
Today, their 8-year-old daughter Abigail is the answer to their prayers — a medical miracle and a bright, happy little girl, her mother told CBN.
“She is a happy, healthy 8-year-old sister. She is really bright,” Beutler said. “She reads at, like, a 9th-grade level.”
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Nine years ago, however, Beutler and her husband were given no hope that Abigail would survive. At about 22 weeks of pregnancy, she was diagnosed with Potter’s syndrome, a rare, typically fatal disorder in which the baby often lacks one or both kidneys and there is too little amniotic fluid.
“[The doctors] said … ‘Your baby has no kidneys, which means there’s no amniotic fluid in there, which means your baby is going to die. There is no chance your baby will live. No baby has ever survived this,’” she told CBN.
It was the “worst moment” of her life, she said.
Beutler’s doctors urged her to consider an abortion or an early labor induction, but she and her husband refused. Instead, they began praying for a miracle and asked family, friends and constituents to do the same.
When she went back to the U.S. House, still pregnant, she said she felt very supported by both the Republican and Democrat lawmakers who serve with her.
“It really opened up this place in the humanity of my colleagues that I had never seen before,” Beutler said.
At the same time, she said she kept feeling God telling her to fight for her daughter. Then, someone told her about an experimental procedure, a kind of “reverse amniocentesis” to put amniotic fluid back into her womb, and Beutler found a doctor willing to try it, according to the report.
“We watched as that first amount of fluid went in, and it started to fill,” she told the news outlet. “We saw [Abigail] open her mouth and swallow the fluid, and her lungs started to practice breathing.”
The treatment seemed to work, but Beutler kept praying.
She said Abigail’s delivery was very difficult and she remembered praying through it, “Jesus, save us.” Her answer came loud and clear when Abigail emerged from the womb crying.
Abigail still needed a lot of care, but she was alive. Because she was born without kidneys, she was on dialysis until she was 2 years old, her mother said. Her husband, Daniel, dropped out of law school to care for Abigail and eventually donated one of his own kidneys to her.
Now, Abigail is 8 years old and thriving. Beutler hopes her daughter’s story will help other families realize that there is hope for children with Potter’s syndrome. She encouraged them to keep fighting.
“We have encouraged and wanted to reach out to other families who are in these situations,” Beutler said. “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”