Stories about: kidney disease

Emily and Isis: Gratitude in the form of a bean

Emily and Isis, kidney donor and recipient, show their matching kidney necklaces.
Emily, left, and Isis with matching kidney necklaces [PHOTOS: SOPHIE FABBRI/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL]

Emily: When grief becomes a gift 

Much of my life has been defined by loss. That loss has taken many forms. Sometimes, it hurdles in with horrific force and other times it sneaks up silently. But it shares one common thread: It has been out of my control.

So, imagine how I felt when I realized that I do have the ability to control destiny, to offer hope to someone else.

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Gavin’s kidney transplant: A big gift for the ‘little man’

Kidney transplant recipient Gavin Couto and his momThere is more to the gaze of 21-month-old Gavin Couto than meets the eye.

“We call him ‘the little man,’” says Lauren Messier. “It’s part of how he looks, but it’s also the way he acts. He just makes us laugh.”

Laughter didn’t come easy the first few months after he was born. Gavin had end-stage renal disease. His mother Samantha ‘Sam’ Grota was told he would need a kidney transplant, and he needed one sooner rather than later.

But the story behind Gavin’s transplant doesn’t begin with his birth; it begins with the birth of a friendship between Lauren and Sam, when the two — now 30-year-olds — first met in a Fairhaven, Massachusetts, middle school.

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A new kidney puts Hannah at the head of the class

Hannah after her kidney transplant

Ever since she was a little girl, all Hannah Nellis wanted to do was to go to school. Not a typical dream for a 10 year-old, but then again, Hannah’s anything but average.

Born with a series of complex medical conditions compromising her kidneys and other organs, Hannah spent her first nine years in and out of doctor’s offices, undergoing tests, dialysis and other treatments. It’s a grueling schedule, often leaving her too busy and tired to attend school. To keep her functioning at the same level as her peers, Hannah’s mother Jennifer home schooled in between doctor visits and treatments.

After years of managing Hannah’s condition, doctors near her hometown of Gloversville, NY, decided a kidney transplant would be the young girl’s best chance at living a full, healthy life. Given Hannah’s age and the complexity of her condition, her local medical team referred her to the Boston Children’s Hospital Renal Transplant Program.

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Our patients’ stories: Yahya’s journey

The Boston Globe recently ran a story about a young Boston Children’s Hospital patient who came to the hospital from Palestine. Coordinating his care was a combined effort of many people, crossing geological and political borders.

Yahya at Boston Children's

When Yahya Ahmad Masalma was born in a small village in Palestine, Israeli doctors diagnosed him with posterior urethral valves (PUV), a congenital and chronic condition that compromises the kidneys and urological system. In Yahya’s case, his kidneys and bladder were unable to properly function, causing serious problems, so doctors in Jerusalem began performing regular dialysis—a process that takes the blood out of the body, filters it through a machine and puts back into the body.

But a person—especially a child—can only undergo dialysis for so long before the body begins to revolt. After five years, Yahya’s blood vessels were damaged and failing and he would soon be unable to undergo any more of the life-sustaining treatment.

Without dialysis, Yahya’s condition would worsen quickly, and the only way he could survive was to get a kidney transplant.

Michael Agus, MD, director of Medicine Critical Care Program Boston Children’s Hospital had heard about Yahya’s case through his Israeli colleagues, and made William Harmon, MD, chief of Boston Children’s Division of Nephrology, aware of the situation. Although the Israeli Hospital has performed kidney transplants in small children before, Yahya had very low blood pressure and they felt that it would not be safe to do so for him. The Israeli physicians could not find a transplant program that was willing to accept Yahya.

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