Mom fights for baby with life-limiting diagnosis, who is now thriving: ‘I didn’t think twice’

By Bridget Sielicki 

When Florida mom Andi Mahoney was 20 weeks pregnant, she was given devastating news: her preborn daughter, Emmie, had a condition called bilateral renal agenesis. The condition meant Emmie didn’t have kidneys — and therefore, doctors said, had no chance of surviving past birth.

“It’s universally fatal,” Mahoney told 11 Alive. “So, we grieved. We thought we were losing our baby, and we were told that there’s no hope.

Despite the life-limiting diagnosis, Mahoney refused to accept that nothing could be done. She began searching for a specialist willing to help her and her daughter, a process she said took weeks.

Eventually, she found Dr. Ruben Quintero with the Fetal Institute in Miami, a six-hour drive from her Jacksonville home. Mahoney began traveling to see Quintero for infusions of fluids that would increase the chance of Emmie’s survival.

“I kept traveling to Miami to get more, to keep Emmie alive,” Mahoney said. “My baby needed fluid to breathe. By the time I got to the 34-week mark, I had an unnatural rupture.”

Due to the rupture, Mahoney had to act fast to find a hospital that could help her. She found one in Stanford, California, that had previous experience helping babies with bilateral renal agenesis. 

“I hopped on a flight from Jacksonville to California with my membranes ruptured,” Mahoney said. “I wanted to go somewhere that would deliver me my Emmie. Also, they gave me hope that she would live.”

Emmie was whisked away for surgery immediately after birth, and though she survived, her outlook was still grim. Eventually, when she was six months old she was airlifted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for treatment. Her family even moved to Georgia to ensure Emmie could get the care she needed. 

Ultimately, it became apparent that Emmie would need a kidney transplant. Mahoney said she was thrilled to learn she was a match for her daughter. 

“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.”

Thanks to her family’s willingness to sacrifice, travel the country, and advocate for her needs, Emmie has defied the predictions and is now a happy toddler.

“She is doing fabulous. I can go on and on,” said one of her medical providers, Dr. Rouba Garro. “It’s hard not to fall in love with her. Even when she’s hurting, she makes sure that she smiles and brings joy and happiness around her. And now after transplant, it’s amazing to watch the growth. She’s thriving.”

“She’s just spreading light and joy and happiness,” said Mahoney. “And I know she’s supposed to be here. She’s my little miracle. She’s amazing.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.