Saved by Mum’s love – I gave my boy a kidney!

When he needed her, Kirsty gave her son the greatest gift of all

Isn’t he cute?’ I said to my partner, Wesley, 33. ‘Yes, he sure is,’ Wes smiled. I was pregnant with our rst child, a boy, and at 14 weeks, we were seeing him for the rst time on a scan.

But our excitement quickly turned to terror.

‘His bladder looks a bit enlarged,’ the sonographer frowned, sending us to the Royal Hobart

Hospital for tests.

‘He has a rare blockage in his urethra called a PUV – posterior urethral valve – preventing him from passing urine,’ the specialist said. ‘I’m sorry, but he has a very small chance of survival.’

‘There must be something you can do!’ I cried.

But they gave us little hope. ‘We’ll see if any other hospital can help,’ he said. ‘But we recommend termination.’

Returning home in tears, we were both distraught that we might lose our baby.

Then the phone rang. It was the Mater Hospital in Brisbane offering to try a risky procedure.

Grateful beyond words, we ew there straight away.

In a surgery performed only once before in Australia, a 30cm needle was inserted through my belly and into our bub to drain his bladder and make the valve in his urethra ‘pop’ so urine could ow out normally.

I lay there terri ed, holding Wes’ hand. So we were thrilled when they told us the procedure had worked, though they warned he had a strong chance of developing kidney failure.

Keep ghting little man, I thought.

On December 6, 2020, I went into labour and Xander arrived, ve weeks early. Barely breathing, he was put on a CPAP machine to push air into his lungs.

Ultrasounds revealed that, while no longer blocked, his kidneys were only half the size they should have been and functioning at just eight per cent.

He was diagnosed with dysplastic kidneys and chronic kidney disease.

‘Prepare yourselves. He may not make it,’ we were warned as he was rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

There, he was put on low calcium and potassium formula and several different medications to stabilise him, stop his kidneys failing, and prevent him having a heart attack.

Again he pulled through and on December 23, 2020, when he was three weeks old, we got to take him home.

‘This is the best Christmas ever,’ I smiled to Wes.

However we knew he’d need a kidney transplant at some stage. Our aim was to avoid dialysis, as it’d slow Xander’s growth and make

it dif cult to achieve the minimum height and weight required for a transplant.

But at three months old, Xander started going downhill. He had to have a PEG inserted into his stomach to be fed, as he kept pulling out the nasogastric tube, and was in and out of hospital. Then tests showed his creatinine level – a waste product normally ltered by the kidneys – was rising, which meant his kidneys were failing rapidly.

His salt and bicarb levels were also out of whack, and he was puffy under his eyes and in his limbs.

‘He needs a transplant quickly,’ doctors told us.

As the kidney could come from an adult, I was bowled over when ve family members put up their hands.

I also begged doctors to test me. They initially resisted, as living female donors under 30 aren’t normally used, as having just one kidney can cause extra pressures during pregnancy.

But to my joy I was a perfect match, so they agreed and we relocated to Melbourne soon after.

I was wheeled into theatre at Austin Hospital, Vic, to have my kidney removed, and three hours later, it was transplanted into Xander, then 14 months, at the Royal Children’s Hospital, 15 kilometres away.

To our relief, the transplant was a complete success. I couldn’t go and see my boy, but Wesley video-called with Xander.

‘Hi darling!’ I said.

He was already looking better and less puffy! And 11 days later, I’d recovered enough to see him.

I wasn’t allowed to pick him up in case I ruptured anything, but Wes put Xander on my lap for a cuddle.

‘We made it,’ I smiled. Today, we’re still living in Melbourne and visit the hospital to be monitored.

Xander, now 18 months, is doing brilliantly. He’s put on weight and he’s so happy and loving. He couldn’t eat solids before, but now he loves food, especially spaghetti!

Best of all, his energy levels are great and he’s even taken his rst steps.

We’re so grateful to all the doctors and nurses. There were many times we could have lost our brave boy but he always pulled through.

Both Wes and I had to give up work to care for Xander, so we set up a GoFundMe page, and we’re very thankful for all the support.

I encourage people to donate a kidney if they get the chance – it makes such a difference to the recipient.

We’re hoping my gift to Xander will be good for at least 25 years, and that he’ll be able to live a normal life.

And that will be the best gift of all. ●

To donate, search Help Xander with His Kidney Transplant & Recovery on GoFundMe.

We could have lost our brave boy

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