Prune Belly Syndrome survivor has modern medicine to thank



Posted on March 10, 2014 at 8:23 AM

AUSTIN -- First, amazing technology saved his life before he was born. Additional medical advancements since then have him on the road to a happy and healthy life.

It's a story we first brought you last July. Survivor of Prune Belly Syndrome, Eric, is just five months old.

“Looking at him every day, it’s like looking at a little miracle,” said Megan Guzman, Eric’s mom.

It was KVUE's first time meeting Eric, but we met Guzman last summer. Just 16 weeks into her pregnancy doctors determined her son suffered from a rare and often fatal condition known as fetal bladder obstruction. That’s when the placenta stops producing amniotic fluid and the water around the baby which allows it to grow and develop inside the womb.

“When I went in when he was 16 weeks, you couldn’t see him,” said Guzman. “You could barely see his head because he was being squished by his stomach.”

Doctors at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas went through the mother’s and baby’s stomachs to insert a shunt. It bypassed the blockage and allowed the fluid to exit, saving Eric’s kidneys while he was in the womb.

However, once born, he would require bladder obstruction surgery.  That was performed by pediatric urologist and the founder of Children’s Urology, Dr. Jose Cortez. He says babies who suffer from fetal bladder obstruction develop what’s called Prune Belly Syndrome after they’re born. 

“They have the very characteristic potbellied, wrinkly appearance of the abdominal wall,” said Cortez. “That’s because of deficient abdominal wall musculature.”

Cortez says the external appearance isn’t the main concern.  He says the real focus is on how well the urinary tract and kidneys have developed.

“It’s the urinary tract problems that these babies have that determine quality of life, survivability and long term outcomes,” he said.

Cortez performed a procedure that improved Eric’s kidney function to normal levels. Guzman remains amazed at the medical advancements that have given her son a chance to, not only survive, but live a normal life.

“I love it,” she said. “I thank God every day for all the technology and the doctors and everybody and everything they can do. Now he won’t need a kidney transplant or dialysis or anything, so it saved him so much.”

Eric will need one final surgery when he’s a year old to fix the problem once and for all. Go here for more information on children's urology and here for more information on St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas.