Published July 30, 2013
A Washington state congresswoman’s announcement Monday about the birth of her daughter was hardly typical.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican, called her baby “a miracle” who survived against all odds.
The baby, Abigail Rose, has survived two weeks after birth despite a pregnancy problem that is usually fatal, and a doctor said Monday that the medical team is cautiously optimistic about the girl's future.
Abigail Rose Beutler was born prematurely on July 15, weighing just 2 pounds, 12 ounces. Doctors had diagnosed a serious problem during the pregnancy called Potter Syndrome, in which impaired kidney function leads to low amniotic fluid.
It is typically fatal because it prevents the fetus's lungs from developing.
The congresswoman explained on her official website as well as on her social media pages that many doctors were pessimistic about the baby’s chances of making it to term, and were fairly certain that if she survived through birth, she would live only moments. Herrera Beutler is against abortion and said she refused to consider it as an option.
“With hearts full of hope, we put our trust in the Lord and continued to pray for a miracle,” she wrote on her congressional site.
The announcement by the congresswoman was, essentially, a testimony about holding out hope and defying the odds.
Abigail has no kidneys and had no amniotic fluid in the womb. During the pregnancy, doctors injected saline solution into the womb in the place of amniotic fluid.
At birth, Abigail had fully developed lungs and she is breathing on her own, suggesting that the relatively uncommon treatment had worked. Abigail still requires ongoing dialysis and will eventually need a kidney transplant.
Herrera Beutler and her husband said they were thankful for the doctors and nurses who were not willing to accept the fatal diagnosis.
"We are grateful to the thousands who joined us in praying for a miracle. But most of all, we are grateful to God for hearing those prayers," Herrera Beutler and her husband said in a joint statement. "As far as every doctor we've spoken with knows, Abigail is the first baby with bilateral renal agenesis to breathe sustainably on her own."
Dr. Louis Halamek, a neonatologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in California, said they are cautiously optimistic about the future of the baby, born after a 28-week pregnancy.
"Despite Abigail's prematurity, small size and life-threatening disease, she is doing well," Halamek said.
Herrera Beutler, 34, is in her second term in Congress, representing the 3rd district covering the southwest portion of Washington state. The National Journal included her on its list of "The Top 25 Most Influential Washington Women Under 35."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.