Houston newborn's kidneys fused together, family goes to doctor for help with anomaly

A local couple is typically taking care of patients in Houston. The tables turned when their newborn surprised them with a hidden kidney, and then they needed to rely on medical professionals to help them.

When Ashley Sims was 20 weeks pregnant, she was excited about her routine ultrasound. That is until they were told something wasn't quite right.

"When we got the news, we were both really shocked and not expecting it, to say the least, that something was going to be wrong with Jordan's kidneys, but we didn't know the extent," explains Ashley Sims. She is a nurse who leads the fetal center at the Pavilion for Women at Texas Children's Hospital. She helps women face complex pregnancies and never realized she'd need to put her knowledge to the test in her own pregnancy.

HEALTH: Nearly a third of leukemia patients saw remission after taking experimental pill

Her son, Jordan, was born where she works. She says it was actually very comforting knowing all of her colleagues were helping and hoping for the best-case scenario for them.

"In this case, there was some concern whether there was absence of a kidney, so most people have two kidneys, but in about anywhere from one in a 1,000 to one in 3,000 pregnancies, you only see one kidney that's developed. So, the initial concern was perhaps the baby only had one kidney, and that prompted the referral here," explains Dr. Michael Braun, who is the Chief of Pediatric Nephrology with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital.

The Sims say they were incredibly relieved to find out that Jordan actually has two kidneys! They're just placed in a different than the typical area. "So the fancy name for that is crossed fused renal ectopia, so it's a fancy way of just saying that instead of being a normal place, the other kidney was localized to the other side of the body," states Dr. Braun. He goes on to explain that development is actually one of the most common problems in newborns.

SUGGESTED: Canadian woman sets world record for donating blood: ‘I have it in me to give’

Ashley says it was certainly a challenging situation at first. "I think the hardest part was that you expect to not find anything (wrong) and so when you are told something's not normal, you want to fix it and really the only thing was to do (during pregnancy) was to wait to see, as Jordan grew, what was actually abnormal about his kidneys," says Ashley.

She and her husband, Dr. Travis Sims, have come a long way in this journey. His compassion and empathy are both high. While he's used to treating cancer patients, it brings him relief knowing his wife is highly knowledgeable about their son's condition. He says it's an entirely different situation with a situation, like this.

"I felt truly helpless at that time, but I knew we were in the right place, so I think that was a little bit comforting. The way the team responded and made her feel confident, which made me feel confident," explains Dr. Sims.

They are relieved to know that medical intervention will probably never have to take place. "The kidneys should be fine where they are. So, my job as a Nephrologist is to make sure that the imaging studies are correct and accurate and that he grows and develops normally," states Dr. Braun.


"It was a great moment when we found out it was nothing serious and that he could grow and live a normal, busy boy life. It's a moment to appreciate the kind of blessings you have and in a moment, (realize) your life could be different," says Dr. Sims.

Ashley now looks at the situation in a positive light. She doesn't keep her private situation to herself at work. She shares it with patients to help reassure them. "I can really relate and empathize on what they're going through because you can only know so much until you've done it. So, it's really nice to share my story and give them hope for what's coming in their pregnancy and what to expect," states Ashley.

She tells us Jordan will undergo an exam only once a year for his kidneys during childhood, to make sure his kidneys are functioning properly.

For more information, click here.