A Gift of Life and Love
-- Mike B.’s Story

Child Kidney Transplant Donor and Recipient

In August 1998, Frank B. gave his 11-year-old son Michael a unique and special gift -- a new kidney.

Michael had a difficult birth. According to his medical file, he suffered chronic renal insufficiency caused by secondary renal cortical necrosis due to hemorrhagic shock at birth. "In plain English," says Mike’s mom Florrie, "that means the umbilical cord broke off of the placenta, and he began to bleed to death. He ended up with shock to his kidneys when his body shut down the kidneys in order to save his brain and his heart."

Mike spent his first few months on dialysis, and it was expected he would need a kidney transplant by his first birthday. Luckily, his kidneys partially recovered, leaving enough kidney function so he didn’t require a transplant until this year.

Fortunately, Mike and his father were an excellent match. This was encouraging news because the greatest success in kidney transplants occurs when a family member is the donor.

Although his family lived under the specter of his inevitable need for a new kidney, Mike spent his first eleven years like most little boys. His illness mainly affected his diet. "He couldn’t eat what other kids could," says Florrie, Mike’s mother. "That was tough." Mike agrees with his mom. He says that the best thing since the transplant is that he can drink milk, eat chocolate and, most especially, indulge in ice cream. "I usually have the Neapolitan," he said. "That’s chocolate, vanilla and strawberry." Mike clearly gets the most he can from every experience.

Before the transplant, it was difficult for Mike to gain weight because his diet was so limited. Since the transplant, however, because of the medications he must take to prevent rejection, he gains weight easily, and must watch what he eats.

Following the transplant, Mike was in the hospital for ten days. Frank recovered from his surgery in record time, being discharged from the hospital in only four days. He refused pain medications and although the doctors told him he would need six to eight weeks to recover, Frank was back teaching on the first day of school -- just two weeks post surgery.

Insurance covered the costs of surgery for both Mike and Frank, and would have covered Frank’s surgery even if he hadn’t had insurance. If you’re ever considering becoming a living donor, it’s important to know that there is no cost to the donor -- any costs the donor may incur are covered by the transplant recipient’s insurance.

Mike missed some school, but he has a tutor and says he’s catching up quickly. "I got a transplant because I had bad kidneys for a long time," says Mike, who faces life with unusual pragmatism and maturity for an 11-year-old. His best advice is "pray to God for a little courage. It was over one-two-three -- really no big deal. The hardest part now is the side effects, like my cheeks puffing out and I need lots of haircuts because my hair grows so fast."

Mike’s prognosis is quite good. He’s doing well and hasn’t had any rejection episodes.