At age 1, Helen’s kidneys were functioning at only 10 percent of normal capacity. Helen was admitted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for emergency dialysis and was diagnosed with kidney disease.
Not long afterward, Helen’s mom, Elizabeth, was determined to be a candidate for living donor transplant. “I talked with my cousin who had donated a kidney to his sister. He said it was the single most meaningful thing that he had ever done in his life—he was right, it is incredibly meaningful, giving life,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth’s kidney was removed through laparoscopic surgery at the Emory Transplant Center and quickly transported to Children’s. Laparoscopic transplant surgery is a minimally invasive surgery where the organ is removed by making small cuts, most of which are less than a quarter of an inch long. Living donors, like Elizabeth, are often able to heal faster and with less pain with the laparoscopic technique.
“By the fourth day I was walking down the street and back. If I could grow another kidney every year, I would donate one every year. I have to say that living donation was easier than giving birth to my first child, Catherine,” Elizabeth said. Helen’s tiny body had an immediate reaction to the kidney—she gained color in her face and energy.
“We have experienced firsthand the benefits of living organ donation and encourage others in similar situations to consider it strongly,” Elizabeth said. “Having a facility as respected as Children’s in our backyard made all the difference in the diagnosis, treatment and recovery of our child. The miracles of science amazed everyone involved.”