Congresswoman's daughter may be home by Christmas

'Miracle baby' moved from hospital to outpatient facility

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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The infant daughter of U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was moved from the hospital to an outpatient facility in California last week, and the Camas Republican hopes she can bring her daughter home to Southwest Washington by Christmas, her spokesman said Monday.

While in the womb, Herrera Beutler's first child, Abigail Rose Beutler, was diagnosed with Potter's Syndrome. It's a condition that stifles kidney development, reduces amniotic fluid production in the uterus, and typically prevents the baby's lungs from developing.

Surprising the medical field, Abigail was born prematurely in July with fully developed lungs. Her kidneys weren't functioning, though, and she was whisked off to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., for dialysis treatments. She will eventually need a kidney transplant.

"Dan (Beutler) and Jaime were able to check Abigail out of the hospital three days ago, and she is currently in outpatient care in California under close supervision," Drew Griffin, a spokesman for Herrera Beutler, said by email Monday. The couple is "thrilled for Abigail to reach this next milestone in her journey and are enjoying their first time spent with their daughter outside of the hospital setting."

Herrera Beutler said in a September interview that she planned to resume her full-time congressional duties once Abigail returns to Southwest Washington, adding that her husband Dan would become their daughter's primary caregiver. Herrera Beutler has been on leave since her daughter's birth. She has traveled to Washington, D.C., to take a few crucial votes, including one in October to end the partial government shutdown. She also relies more heavily on her staff to communicate with 3rd District constituents.

The diagnosis Abigail received was previously considered fatal. After receiving the diagnosis, however, Herrera Beutler underwent an experimental treatment — saline injections in her uterus — that allowed the baby's lungs to develop while still in the womb.

Abigail has drawn national media attention and has been described as a "miracle baby." Herrera Beutler recently shared her story on NBC's "Today" show and on ABC's "This Week," a Sunday morning political talk show.

After receiving Abigail's diagnosis, Herrera Beutler said most of the doctors she met with were unwilling to try any unproven treatments. Then, a woman who had heard Herrera Beutler's story gave her the name of a doctor who eventually performed the saline injections. Herrera Beutler said she hopes her experience helps pave a new path for medical professionals who encounter Potter's Syndrome.