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Achieving Pregnancy and Motherhood with Kidney Disease

Not long ago, many patients—and even doctors—would have considered it an impossible dream for a woman to become pregnant and have a baby after being prescribed dialysis treatment for end stage renal disease (ESRD). Even today, only about a handful of women per 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.

Margaret underwent dialysis treatment while pregnant last year, eventually delivering a healthy son in January of 2019. 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 to her body.

“It’s been a miracle,” Margaret said. “I never thought this would be possible.”

Diagnosis and a new reality

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. With pregnancy and kidney failure, blood pressure can spike even higher, causing extreme swelling and other issues that make a healthy pregnancy challenging.

“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.”

A healthy pregnancy made possible

“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.”

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. Born at about 6 pounds, Aiden is thriving. And Margaret, who continues dialysis therapy at her same center, celebrates a day she never thought would come: her first Mother's Day as a mom.

This story is current as of May 2019.


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