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Sandra Williams’ Mother’s Day was extra special this year. It came just days before her son Teddy’s first birthday—a blessing she and her husband continue to celebrate every day. While the 34-year-old mom from Chicago’s North Side may look like the picture of health, her complex medical history beginning in her teens—including two kidney transplants—put Williams at risk for potential pregnancy complications.
Williams health challenges began at age 13, when she went into dual kidney failure while on vacation in Greece. A first kidney transplant saved her life. Then, during college five years later, she underwent a second transplant.
Risk Assessment Fast forward 15 years when a happily-married Williams and her husband Chris started exploring the possibility of having children. They spoke with her longtime NorthShore kidney specialist Stuart Sprague, DO, who recommended she consult with the experts at NorthShore’s Center for Maternal and Fetal Medicine (MFM) because they specialize in high-risk pregnancies. Williams quickly made an appointment with MFM Specialist Scott MacGregor, DO. “Dr. MacGregor walked us through the possible risks and explained their team-care approach, which made us feel very comfortable," she recalled. Seven months later to her great surprise and excitement, Williams, a senior director at Chicago Botanic Garden, was pregnant.
Total Team Effort Due to her kidney issues, Williams’ care required very close monitoring by both her MFM team and Dr. Sprague. Renal disease creates a higher risk for hypertension and pre-eclampsia, which can cause significant fetal complications. The mom-to-be kept to a strict regimen of physician appointments, blood work, fetal ultrasounds, heart rate monitoring and ongoing care from the MFM team including physicians, nurses and midwife Gina Russano, CNM-APN.
“I really liked that I got to meet so many different doctors,” said Williams. “The consistent appointments and ultrasounds gave Chris and me great peace of mind, and we formed a real relationship with our midwife Gina, who was wonderfully supportive.”
Russano and the MFM team collaborated closely with Dr. Sprague every step of the way tracking the baby’s growth and each detail from Williams’ exhaustive lab tests. “It was a massive team effort and MFM developed a customized plan of care for her,” added Russano. “Sandra had an optimistic, hopeful attitude, and did everything we asked her to do. She ended up sailing through this pregnancy.”
Baby Makes Three Teddy was delivered at full term by Beth Plunkett, MD, MPH, in May 2017. “Dr. Plunkett was so kind and calm. I felt very safe and comfortable with her,” said Williams. A healthy, happy baby, Teddy may become an older brother, as there are plans to add to the family.
“Sandra has a very unique condition, and the success of her pregnancy speaks to the high level of communication and collaboration of multiple subspecialists, and the good care she takes of her own health,” noted Dr. Plunkett. “We’re very optimistic about another pregnancy.”