When Jamie Dawes was eight month pregnant, an ultrasound revealed that Sawyer’s bladder was enlarged and his kidneys were dilated. Jamie’s local Champaign doctor referred her to two physicians: an OB/GYN at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Benjamin Rhee, MD, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Dr. Rhee diagnosed Sawyer with a condition called posterior urethral valve; a membrane partially obstructed Sawyer’s urethra, interfering with urine exiting his bladder. This caused pressure to build up in Sawyer’s kidneys. Untreated, it would lead to kidney failure after birth. “We decided that I would deliver at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, so Sawyer could be treated right away,” Jamie says.
One week after Sawyer’s birth, Dr. Rhee performed a procedure to remove the blockage in Sawyer’s urethra. The procedure was successful, but the initial blockage had damaged Sawyer’s bladder and kidneys. Dr. Rhee ran a test—called a voiding cystourethrogram (VCU), which creates an X-ray of the bladder and urinary tract—to examine how urine flowed through Sawyer’s body.
“Our main goal right now is to preserve Sawyer’s kidney function for as long as possible,” Dr. Rhee says. “He may need a kidney transplant, but we’d rather he receive a transplant later in life than during his early years. So right now, we’re focused on emptying his bladder to take the pressure off of his kidneys.”
Although the Dawes have a journey ahead while awaiting a long-term solution for Sawyer’s urological issues, they’re grateful for the comprehensive care they’ve received thus far at Children’s Hospital. The Dawes make the 90-mile drive from Champaign to Peoria without complaint to visit Dr. Rhee as often as needed, because they know compassionate
“We love Dr. Rhee,” Joe Dawes says. “He’s always so helpful and he thoroughly answers all of our questions. He takes his time with us to make sure we
understand exactly what’s happening. Sawyer smiles whenever he sees Dr. Rhee.”
Dr. Rhee works alongside other experts at Children’s Hospital to determine the best course of treatment for Sawyer and other patients like him. “We have monthly meetings with the pediatric urology, pediatric nephrology (the study of kidney conditions), and transplant teams,” Dr. Rhee says. “We discuss each child’s medical issues and develop a plan for addressing each one. Sawyer will continue to be discussed as he progresses to ensure we’re providing the very best care for all of his needs.”