Mom Saves Life of 2-Year-Old Daughter Born Without Kidneys by Donating One of Her Own

Due to a rare condition, Emmie Mahoney was born without her kidneys, but her mom Andi “didn’t think twice” about sacrificing one of her own

<p>11Alive/Youtube</p> Andi and Emmie Mahoney.


Andi and Emmie Mahoney.

Emmie Mahoney was born without kidneys, but thanks to her mother Andi’s kidney donation, she’s alive — and celebrated her second birthday this past March.

When Andi Mahoney was pregnant with Emmie, during her routine 20-week scan doctors discovered she had a rare — and often fatal — condition: bilateral renal agenesis. She was developing without kidneys.

With renal agenesis (the absence of a kidney), babies can survive. However, the absence of both in utero (bilateral renal agenesis) impacts the development of the lungs.

The Cleveland Clinic says 1 in 8,500 newborns are born with bilateral renal agenesis, adding “without kidneys to make urine and amniotic fluid, a fetus's lungs don’t develop properly. Most newborns die from respiratory failure a few hours after childbirth.”

Once Emmie’s condition was discovered, Andi regularly drove six hours from their home in Jacksonville, Fla., to Miami’s Fetal Institute so that Emmie could have the necessary fluid infusions for survival, according to a report in USA Today.

"I kept traveling to Miami to get more, to keep Emmie alive," Mahoney told USA Today. "My baby needed fluid to breathe."

However, at the 34-week mark, Mahoney suffered a premature rupture of her membranes, which the National Institute of Health says carries extreme risks for Emmie, including respiratory distress, increased chance for infection — and can be fatal.

Mahoney had found a hospital in Stanford, Calif., that had experience in delivering babies with bilateral renal agenesis, so she “hopped on a flight from Jacksonville to California with my membranes ruptured."

Related: Congresswoman's 'Miracle Baby' Born Without Kidneys Finally Gets One – from Her Dad: 'We Are Blessed'

"I wanted to go somewhere that would deliver me my Emmie. Also, they gave me hope that she would live.”

Emmie was born with underdeveloped lungs, and needed dialysis to stay alive. The family — which includes dad Ryan and two older sisters — moved closer to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where Emmie had outpatient dialysis for 30 months.

"I received the best news of my life when I found out we had matching blood types and that I was approved for the surgery," Mahoney told USA Today. "I didn't think twice. I knew I was giving my kidney to Emmie."

As the National Kidney Foundation says, kidney donations between family members are less likely to be rejected, as the donor and recipient are “genetically similar.”

It’s also less likely to require postoperative dialysis, as “a kidney from a living donor usually functions immediately, because the kidney is out of the body for a very short time.”

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But her road to transplant was a bumpy one, the family shared on their Caring Bridge site, where they chronicle Emmie’s health journey.

This past February, she ended up in the hospital with severe obstructive sleep apnea, which means that while sleeping, Emmie would stop breathing, as the Mayo Clinic explains.

“These apnea episodes have become so severe that her heart rate is dropping when her oxygen level drops,” wrote Andi, who explained that the condition was delaying her transplant operation.

And after Emmie had surgery to correct her sleep apnea, she landed in the PICU on a ventilator when her blood pressure and oxygen levels dropped.

Related: It's a Special Father's Day for Dad Who Gave Son a Kidney to 'Provide Him a Life': 'A No-Brainer' (Exclusive)

When she was stabilized, the transplant was scheduled for June — but then delayed again, after Emmie developed an infection at her catheter site. The infection spread, and Emmie went into septic shock.

But despite all the setbacks, this past July, Andi successfully donated her kidney to her daughter, whom she nicknamed Jellybean.

“Each of Emmie’s surgeons expected complications but none arose,” Andi wrote, adding, “The first news I learned when coming to was that Emmie had peed on the table!!!”

And in August, Emmie “slept in her own bed without dialysis for the first time in her life.”

As the mom shared on Facebook Wednesday, ”Three months post transplant today and Emmie is continuing to blow us away with her developmental leaps, talking sentences around us and gaining more confidence as a walker.”

And from what Andi shares, Emmie's confidence just keeps growing: “She arrived at the park today in her pajamas and high tops and announced, “I boss baby!” until she was sure everyone heard.”

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