Survival of Congresswoman’s Baby a Celebrated Case Study

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is a half-hour late for her meeting with a news photographer. She strides into her cramped lobby in the Longworth House Office Building, clad in leopard heels and cradling her year-old daughter, Abigail. Her husband, Daniel Beutler, follows, slinging a diaper bag.

The photographer, however, will have to wait still a bit longer.

The family ducks into Herrera Beutler’s private office, so she can adjust the baby’s flower hair band and get her shutter-ready.

“I have to tell you, she does not smile,” Herrera Beutler warns as the photographer finally moves in for a shot.

Such are the prosaic fussings of a first-time mother – except Abigail is no ordinary child.

On this day last month, the Beutlers had just come off the House floor, where Speaker John Boehner introduced Abigail as a medical miracle and hailed her doctor, who was seated in the visitors’ gallery. Delivered three months prematurely in July 2013, Abigail is believed to be the longest-surviving child to have been born without either of her kidneys.

Her condition, and the accompanying severe lack of amniotic fluid while in the womb, is nearly always fatal; most infants are stillborn or live mere hours. The little girl now receives home dialysis, and she is scheduled to undergo a kidney transplant soon.

Abigail’s odds-defying survival – and the controversial intervention that made it possible – vaulted Herrera Beutler into international headlines and may yet alter treatment protocols for others with the condition called Potter syndrome.

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