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EXCLUSIVE: Infusions at Omaha hospital help California mom keep unborn baby alive

Diagnosed with Potter Syndrome, baby Katalina undergoes dialysis every night
An Omaha doctor is changing lives across the country including a couple out in California.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:50 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An Omaha doctor is changing lives across the country, including that of a California couple, who had almost given up on having their daughter, Katalina, after a terrifying diagnosis.

At 21 weeks pregnant with Katalina, Esther Quiralte’s doctor told her “there was nothing that could be done and termination was the best option.”

While in-utero, Katalina was diagnosed with Potter Syndrome. It’s a rare and life-threatening condition when — for reasons unknown — the kidneys don’t develop, resulting in no amniotic fluid being produced. In turn, the fetal lungs don’t develop, preventing the newborn from breathing when born.

But amnioinfusions can change that, and Quiralte was determined to take that route, so she tried to get into a trial for the infusions at Stanford University, but didn’t get in.

After weeks of research and heartache, she found out about Dr. Michael Barsoom in a Facebook group. From there, everything changed.

“I came across Dr. Barsoom, and he was the only one that would help me,” Quiralte said.

Barsoom, an OB-GYN at CHI Health who specializes in maternal and fetal medicine as well as high-risk pregnancies, is also one of the few doctors across the country who is qualified to offer amnioinfusions into the womb, giving these babies a fighting chance at survival.

He said it’s not a quick fix, noting that post-birth recovery for babies can be tedious; but it is life-saving for patients who qualify.

“Every family has to weigh the pros and cons, and all we can do is hold their hands and give them as much hope as possible,” Dr. Barsoom said.

At the end of November 2020, Quiralte started traveling back and forth from California for the infusions.

“It was so surreal. I feel like during that entire journey I was in such a fight or flight mode,” she said.

Then in January, she moved to Omaha temporarily with her husband and 3-year-old son to receive a total of 15 infusions before flying back to California to give birth to baby Katalina on Feb. 1.

Quiralte said the experience was a true lesson of love.

“If you feel like in your heart there’s a chance, do it. Don’t listen to all of these doctors telling you ‘no,’ because there will be one telling you ‘yes,’ ” she said.

The Quiraltes said Dr. Barsoom is their family’s hero, carefully explaining everything from start to finish and giving them all the educational tools to endure the journey.

Fast-forward more than a year, and the doctor said that if he ever has a chance to meet little Katalina, he would tell her how brave her mom is.

“The real hero in her life is her mother because she had to endure all the travel. And even if she didn’t have to travel, she had to endure having the procedure once a month. And if it wasn’t for her mother’s resolve, she wouldn’t be here,” Dr. Barsoom said.

Katalina’s healthcare journey continues; the baby undergoes dialysis every night. But she’s a baby with a lot of fight in her. Despite it all “for the most part she’s a happy, normal baby... crawling around like crazy!” Quiralte said.

Because of the amnioinfusions from CHI Health, her family says little Katalina now has the strength to wait for a kidney.

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