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Prune belly syndrome
Jaquares Bates

Like most 9-year-old boys, Jaquares Bates is all about superheroes. And like the strong characters he so admires, Jaquares has long exhibited a heroic strength all his own.

Jaquares was diagnosed in utero with prune belly syndrome, a rare disorder caused by a host of issues, including problems in the urinary tract. Jaquares developed a blockage in his urethra. “Most kids with prune belly are usually stillborn,” said his mother, Jevita Lane. “Typically, about one out of every five kids with prune belly survives. But thankfully, doctors were able to catch Jaquares’ condition early to give him a fighting chance.”

After an amniocentesis confirmed prune belly, Jevita was referred to a specialist in Birmingham for an in utero procedure at just 16 weeks to insert shunt to drain Jaquares’ bladder because urine was backing up into his kidneys. “After that procedure, we just had to wait and see if it worked,” Jevita said. “In the meantime, plans were made to deliver him at 36 weeks.”

Jaquares, however, had other plans. He came early at 32 weeks and was airlifted from his hometown of Montgomery to Children’s of Alabama’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where he was put on dialysis and life support. “I was told he probably wouldn’t live past five days,” Jevita said. “It was so hard, but we were steadfast in praying and waiting.”

Doctors worked to keep Jaquares alive while trying to determine why his bladder wasn’t functioning properly and also locate the shunt from the surgery he had in utero. “By the time he was born, the shunt had moved and was coiled up in is bladder,” Jevita said. “Once the urologist discovered that and removed it, his little body started producing urine and has been ever since. He also quickly showed that he didn’t need the life support. He was able to go without it and breathe on his own. He was a fighter.”

After years of intermittent hospital admissions, Jaquares reached a point where he had to do peritoneal dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant. A few months later, Jevita got the call that a kidney was available. But that excitement quickly turned to nervousness when, during the transplant surgery, Jevita found out the original surgeon who removed the kidney from the donor had cut the kidney incorrectly. “Everyone was blindsided with that, but thankfully we had a surgeon who could make it work,” she said. “Dr. Bynum was incredible. He came and talked with me and prayed with me, and I honestly think he was the only surgeon who could have made that work.”

The transplant surgery was successful, and even with the complications caused by the kidney being cut incorrectly, the transplant lasted four years. Jaquares is back on hemodialysis, which his mom does at home, while he waits for another kidney. Despite the setbacks, he’s back in school and feeling well enough to play superheroes with his big brother, Jamares. While Jaquares’ favorite superhero is Superman, to Jevita, the real superhero is Jaquares.

“Even when they say he can’t do this or that, he somehow does it,” Jevita said. “He loves proving people wrong about what he can and can’t do. And he handles it all so positively; he’s happy regardless of the circumstance. He keeps me strong. That is for sure.”

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