Allie and Chris Taylor vividly remember the day their second son Jett was born.
“Jett was a gift to me — the one I fought and cried for,” Allie recalls.
Twenty weeks earlier, during a routine ultrasound conducted at a nearby hospital, Allie and Chris were told their unborn son’s kidneys were enlarged. Doctors feared the worst.
“They did a second ultrasound and told us my baby wouldn’t make it past 28 weeks gestation. We were told we should see a specialist but not to keep our hopes high.”
Allie and Chris were seen three days later at the Advanced Fetal Care Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. They met with a team of fetal and pediatric experts, including Dr. Richard Lee, co-director of the hospital’s Urologic Trauma Unit.
Lee shared his expertise and gave the Taylors hope.
“When I saw Allie at 20 weeks pregnant there was evidence of some blockage in their child’s right kidney, and the left kidney also looked a little dilated,” Lee says. “We felt very positive this was something we could address. We’ve seen this in the past and felt there was a good likelihood their baby would do really well.”
Caring for Jett before birth
The months to follow were filled with hope and anxiety. Allie visited the Advanced Fetal Care Center every two weeks where her unborn son’s kidney function and overall health were monitored.
“Dr. Lee was willing to fight for us and fight for our baby. I felt great relief, because he showed us reasons why there was hope,” Allie says.
On Nov. 19, 2013, Allie gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and named him Jett.
Minimally invasive surgery
Soon after birth, Lee identified three treatable urological issues. Jett had a kidney blockage, an undescended testicle and a weakened bladder wall. He needed three minimally invasive surgeries to correct these urological conditions.
At 2 months old, Jett underwent a cystoscopy, a procedure used to correct the blockage in the ureter. The blockage, also called an ureterocele, prevents the natural passage of urine from the kidney into the bladder. It can weaken the bladder muscle and often causes vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), a condition where urine to flows backwards from the bladder up toward the kidneys.
“The blockage was so big it got in the way of his ability to urinate. Not only did it block the upper portion of the right kidney, it actually blocked everything,” explains Lee.
Once the first surgery was complete, Jett’s kidneys quickly began to resume normal function.
“The kidneys, previously presumed to be really bad from the prenatal ultrasound, started to look much better after we unblocked the ureter,” says Lee.
When Jett was 7 months old, he underwent a second surgery — the first of two laparoscopic procedures to address the undescended testicle still located in his abdomen. During Jett’s final surgery in January 2015, Lee completed the testicular procedure, repaired his congenitally weakened bladder and repositioned both sets of ureters to treat the VUR.
“Jett did fantastic and went home in a few days,” Lee says. “A follow-up appointment showed he had no more VUR, no further bladder defect, and the repair of his undescended testicle was successful. His kidneys recovered well.”
Moving on and in good health
Jett, now 2, loves trains and fire trucks, going for bike rides and playing with his siblings — big brother, Lincoln, 3, and the family’s newest addition, 9-month-old Nona.
“When I think back to our initial ultrasound, it breaks my heart to imagine how different life would be without Jett in our family,”says Allie who visits the Waltham location for Jett’s follow up care. “I will forever be grateful for second opinions and the Boston Children’s team willing to fight for us.”
Watch Dr. Lee’s caregiver video.
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