At 19 1/2 weeks pregnant, Niki Parker and her husband, Cory, of Salem, Illinois, were about to find out the gender of their baby at their scheduled ultrasound.
What they thought would be an exciting day, discovering if their first born would be a boy or girl, turned out to be a day of worry. Niki’s obstetrician thought the baby’s right kidney looked enlarged.
Niki’s doctor sent her to a specialist.
“The specialist ran a variety of tests and did an ultrasound,” Niki said. “Everything looked proportional to the baby’s growth except for the right kidney. They threw out all kinds of things that might be wrong, but most likely wouldn’t be able to provide an accurate diagnosis until the baby was born.”
To rule out any chromosomal conditions, like Down syndrome, they took a sample of Niki’s blood. The test was negative for any chromosomal abnormalities. The test also confirmed the Parkers would be welcoming a son.
For the next 20 weeks, the baby would be closely monitored.
Creating a care plan
On March 18, 2017, Cory and Niki Parker welcomed their son, Mason – who was born full-term – at a local hospital in Effingham, Illinois.
One week after Mason was born, the Parkers made the trip to OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria under the care of Dr. Churphena Reid, a pediatric urologist. The urology program is ranked in the Top 50 by U.S. News & World Report.
“Our specialist’s office referred us to Children’s Hospital in Peoria,” Niki said. “We also have family in East Peoria, who have said nothing but wonderful things about the hospital. Those two factors made our decision to go to Peoria for Mason’s care.”
Dr. Reid did an ultrasound and diagnosed Mason with hydronephrosis – which is when fluid surrounds the kidney. She also said his kidney and ureter – which is a small tube that connects the kidney to the bladder – were dilated. Additionally, Mason had a duplicating collection system – which meant Mason had two ureters from the right kidney and two from the left kidney.
“Dr. Reid thought either the hydronephrosis was from an infection in the kidney or the organ wasn’t functioning properly,” Niki said. “Dr. Reid put him on antibiotics to see if that would help the fluids surrounding the kidney and resolve the issue.”
The Parkers continued to follow up with Dr. Reid once or twice a month. At Mason’s 6-month appointment, Dr. Reid determined Mason’s kidney condition wasn’t related to an infection, and most likely had to do with his kidney’s functionality. Mason also started to develop a cyst on the top of his right kidney. He would require surgery the following the month.
A healthy kidney at last
On November 1, 2017, 7-month-old Mason underwent an intense four-hour surgery.
“I remember telling Mason when I handed him over to the nurses to be prepped for surgery, ‘You come back to mama,’” Niki said. “I lost it. That was the hardest part.”
Dr. Reid removed the cyst located on the top of Mason’s right kidney. The additional ureter on the right kidney was free floating and wrapped around Mason’s internal organs. Dr. Reid was able to detangle it and join it with his functioning ureter to make one.
After the surgery, Mason was transferred to the general pediatrics unit where he stayed for the next two nights.
“Everyone at Children’s Hospital from Dr. Reid to the nurses were absolutely amazing,” Cory said. “They are all really great people.”
“The nurses on the general pediatrics floor went above and beyond to make Mason and even Cory and I feel comfortable,” Niki said. “The nurses actually listen to your needs and wants for your child.”
Today, Mason is a happy-go-lucky 8-month-old, crawling-everywhere baby. He will continue to follow up with Dr. Reid indefinitely to make sure his kidney remains healthy.
“Yes, we drive to Peoria for one doctor’s appointment where I know we could have driven an hour to receive care in St. Louis,” Cory said. “But we wouldn’t change a thing. It’s worth the extra miles to have the peace of mind knowing that our baby is getting the absolute best care.”