At birth of son, KC area mom loses arms and legs, but not spirit— inspiring thousands

The joy of the birth of their third son turned to fear, tragedy and now — after the partial loss of Brie Morgan Bauer’s legs and arms to toxic shock — has turned to hope and inspiration for hundreds of thousands of the Kansas City area mother’s followers on social media.

A GoFundMe page, with a $100,000 goal to help with medical and other bills, on Monday had already surpassed $350,000. Mother and baby son have more than 360,000 Instagram followers from around the world.

“God will be with you!” wrote one follower.

“Keep fighting,” wrote one from New Zealand.

“Praying for all of you!” wrote another.

Brie Morgan Bauer in rehabilitation therapy in May.
Brie Morgan Bauer in rehabilitation therapy in May.

It all began on Feb. 17 when, according to the fundraising site, Bauer, 35 — a nurse with two young sons and 27 weeks pregnant — entered AdventHealth Shawnee Mission for an emergency C-section. At 3:51 that afternoon, she and her husband, Reid, welcomed their third son, Beau, into the world at 2 pounds, 8 ounces.

But as Beau was being stabilized and transported to the neonatal intensive care unit, his mother was gravely ill.

“The medical team struggled to get oxygen to her fluid-filled lungs and to stop her bleeding,” Natalie Bogan Morgan and Molly Cole, organizers of the fundraiser, wrote. “Brie began to suffer from organ failure.”

Bauer was placed in a medically induced coma. Family was alerted that she may not survive the night. But Bauer held on. Within 24 hours, lab results identified the cause: streptococcal toxic shock syndrome from the bacteria, plus a condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, a rare and serious condition that causes abnormal blood clotting throughout the body.

Within 72 hours, she would have two more major surgeries, a hysterectomy to remove her uterus and another to remove her colon. Meanwhile, her hands and feet began to turn black from lack of blood flow. Bauer was still in an induced coma. Doctors reduced the paralytic medication, at her family’s request.

Instagram post from March 17: “While Brie was fighting for her life, Beau was showing everyone how strong he was, too.”
Instagram post from March 17: “While Brie was fighting for her life, Beau was showing everyone how strong he was, too.”

Her husband, with Beau at her bedside, spoke to his wife, the narrative says.

“Brie, it’s Reid,” he’s quoted as saying. “The baby is safe. He’s beautiful and looks like you.”

Bauer opened her eyes.

“It was clear Brie was still ready to fight,” the organizers wrote.

In the weeks and months since, Bauer has endured numerous more surgeries, including amputations to her right arm, just above the elbow. Her left, just below. Her right leg at the hip. Her left leg, just above the knee. At one point, she was transferred to the University of Kansas Hospital.

Her son was released from a hospital with reportedly few complications. Family has been with Bauer around the clock since Feb. 17, rotating in 21 shifts each week while her husband also cares for their boys at their home in Miami County, just south of Johnson County.

Neither Bauer nor family members have granted interviews, although an exclusive online interview with the “Today” show has reportedly been scheduled. Complications for Bauer include end-stage renal disease, so she needs dialysis.

Brie Morgan Bauer and her husband, Reid Bauer, with their sons, as posted on GoFundMe.
Brie Morgan Bauer and her husband, Reid Bauer, with their sons, as posted on GoFundMe.

It has been the social media photos and videos of Bauer going through rehab with an apparent indomitable spirit that captivated people’s attention and emotions worldwide:

Bauer maneuvering her wheelchair, learning to use her prosthetic hand, exercising, cradling her son on her chest.

“You all have been an inspiration to thousands all over the world,” one follower wrote. “Determination, fortitude, perseverance, dedicated Drs and nurses, family. … What a testimony.”

The most recent Instagram post, from June 1, shows Bauer in a video montage set to a soundtrack of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ song, “Learning to Fly.” In one moment, Bauer holds Beau on her lap, feeding him with a bottle and kissing his head.

“What a difference a week and a half makes!” the post says. “Couldn’t be more proud of our girl for crushing rehab! Thank you to OT and PT teams for helping her break down barriers. Keep going, Brie!”