WOMAN RISKS LIFE FOR BABY,
by CeCe Todd
As Rachel Davis watches her son, Brett,
laugh and race about the living room, she doesn't think about her doctor's words from more than three years ago.
"Your life is at risk. The pregnancy should be terminated."
She doesn't think about her difficult pregnancy as her kidneys malfunctioned and she gained 100 pounds of water. She doesn't think about the dialysis she endures every week, or her open heart surgery and stroke, or how she spent months learning to talk and walk again.
She doesn't think about the fact that she will die without a kidney transplant, (or miracle healing) or how it all might have been prevented had she followed a doctor's advice - and had an abortion.
When this Mesa mother looks at her 3-year-old son, all she can think about is this: "I wish I could get down on the floor and play with my son or pick him up when he gets an 'owie.' I wish I could be the one to run to him when he cries."
Instead, Davis, 24, moves slowly, her energy depleted from countless health problems and the need for a new kidney. Like others on organ donor lists, she carries a pager and waits for the beep that will summon her to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix and another chance for life.
After everything she has been through, you might expect Davis to be depressed and hopeless. But even longing as she does for a normal life, she remains positive and upbeat. Her family and her faith sustain her.
"My baby is a gift the Heavenly Father gave to me," she says. "I believe He has a purpose for me."
Davis had thought she would never be able to have children because she rarely menstruated and had kidney problems. So she and husband Aaron Davis, 24, were happily surprised to learn she was pregnant.
"I felt like this baby was a miracle," she says.
Right away, Davis started to retain an abnormal amount of water. Tests showed she had outrageous amounts of protein in her urine. At about three months, doctors recommended an abortion because of the strain the pregnancy was placing on her kidneys.
Davis didn't need to think about it. Abortion was never a consideration.
"I kept going back and they kept doing urine tests, and they would say this is going to be difficult," she recalls. "They talked about delivering early and the dangers and low birth weights."
Snapshots show how 100 pounds of retained water bloated Davis' legs to three times their normal size. Water would even seep from her legs as she tried to sleep.
"It was very painful," Davis says. "When no one else was around, I would talk to my stomach. I would say, 'Mommy's doing all this for you.'"
An early delivery was in the best interest of the mother - but had to wait until the baby's lungs were mature.
Finally, at 4:53 a.m., on Feb. 28, 1997, Davis gave birth to her 4-pound, 9-ounce miracle baby - Brett Wayne Davis. About two months premature, the infant would stay in the hospital for eight days before coming home.
Today, he is a happy, healthy little boy, his development apparently on track, his mother says.
"He's a firecracker. He's in your face and he's kissing you," she adds with the enthusiasm of a proud parent. "He says "Ma, ma, ma,' and he gives really good hugs."
After her child's birth, Davis was put on steroids to help her ailing kidneys. Three months later, she would do something that felt right at the time, something she now knows was a big mistake: She stopped taking her medication.
"I felt good and we were happy and I wanted to live a normal life," Davis says as her eyes mist over with tears. "So I stopped taking the steroids, and I shouldn't have."
As a result, fluid built up around her heart and in her legs. She was put on kidney dialysis, and has been on dialysis ever since.
For two years, she has been on the transplant list for a new kidney. Her younger sisters volunteered to donate a kidney, but they were either too young or had tissue types that didn't match.
So now, the Mesa woman waits and wonders how, even if a kidney is found for her, she and her family will pay for the transplant because they do not have health insurance. Aaron Davis is a plumber, working for his parents' business, which cannot afford to provide insurance benefits. And when they explain Rachel Davis' situation to potential insurers, the insurers refuse to provide coverage.
Instead, Rachel Davis is on Medicare, which will pay 80 percent of the costs for a kidney transplant. The remaining 20 percent is about $80,000.
The Davises know that some people might question whether Medicare should pay for the transplant since doctors warned of the dangers of continuing Rachel's pregnancy. But they point out that even before she became pregnant, there were health problems.
"Rachel would never give up her child for anything," Aaron Davis says. "And chances are we'd be going through this anyway with nothing to show for it."
"The way we feel about it, a human life is worth everything and it can't be disposed of lightly. In our minds, we did the best we could do."
The wait for a kidney has taken on more urgency this year. In February, a blood infection from a catheter in Rachel's neck traveled to her heart and eventually to her brain, causing a stroke. When Aaron Davis found his wife lying in a chair in the living room, she was unable to move or speak.
She had open heart surgery and therapy to recover from the stroke. Today, she can walk and talk, but it can be difficult for her to think clearly and convey her thoughts.
Still, this family has not given up.
"It's amazing just that she's here," Aaron Davis says. "I was told countless times she wouldn't make it through the night."
Her mother, Pat Allen, adds: "We have never as a family ever given up on Rachel - and we never will."
Allen is proud of her daughter's courage. "Not only was she willing to give her life for her son, but she fights every day because she is so determined to be here for him. She knows there's no one who will be able to love him as much as she does."
Little Brett is unaware of the life-and-death battle going on around him. He just sprays water from a squirt bottle onto both parents and giggles with delight to see how wet he has made them and the couch.
When he is older, Rachel Davis hopes her miracle baby will know that everything she did for him she did out of love.
"We loved you enough to sacrifice," the young mother says to a little boy too young to understand. "We did anything we had to do to bring you to this earth."
Note: Please pray for a miraculous healing for Rachel. Jesus is willing!