Not long ago, many patients, and even doctors, would have considered it an impossible dream, becoming pregnant and delivering a child while in kidney failure and receiving life-sustaining dialysis treatment. Even today, only about a handful of women a year are able to do so.
With the help of an engaged and diligent care team at Fresenius Kidney Care-University Dialysis Center of Orange, Margaret Pousima has now lived that dream. She underwent dialysis while pregnant last year, eventually delivering a healthy son this spring. During the final five months of pregnancy, Margaret received daily dialysis treatments at the dialysis center, meeting frequently with her nephrologist to anticipate and understand changes in her body.
“It’s been a miracle,” Margaret said. “I never thought this would be possible.”
Margaret was diagnosed with kidney failure prior to her pregnancy, when doctors found out her kidney function was hovering around 8 percent. She was diabetic and her blood pressure was high.
“Everything started to go downhill fast. I told my husband when we got married, that we would never be able to have kids,” Margaret said. “We had always wanted children, but I told him it was not possible because of my health problems.”
High blood pressure and diabetes are both leading causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD also can cause blood pressure to spike and can lead to extreme swelling and other issues that make a healthy pregnancy challenging.
“Stakes are high, emotions are high. But, with dialysis therapy you can get patients to term more than ever before,” said Dr. Kam Kalantar-Zadeh, Medical Director of Fresenius Kidney Care-University Dialysis Center of Orange and a Professor of Medicine at University of California Irvine. “This helps alter public perception of what it means to be a dialysis patient. You can lead a normal life.”
Margaret was among the first pregnant patients that Dr. Kalantar has had at the new dialysis center in recent years. A partnership formed with Fresenius Kidney Care in 2015 that brought more resources and state-of-the-art equipment to the center that has allowed his team the resources and flexibility required to treat pregnant patients.
With support from her care team, whom Margaret credits with making her pregnancy as positive and stress free as possible, she was able to give birth to her son on Jan. 29, 2019. Born at about 6 pounds, Aiden, now three months old, is thriving as Margaret, who continues dialysis therapy in the same center, celebrates a day she never thought would come, her first Mother’s Day as a mom.
Happy Mother’s Day to Margaret and to all those celebrating!