Tot Saved by Mother’s Transplant

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Andrew Johnson and his family spread organ donor awareness at the Boston Kidney Walk

 Four-year-old Andrew Johnson is an energetic kid who loves preschool, swimming and ice skating.

No one would believe that at one point, medical professionals didn’t think Andrew was going to have a chance at a normal life. Only 19 weeks into her pregnancy, Tara Johnson and her husband, Kevin, learned that their baby had a serious blockage in his urethra. When he was born, it was discovered that the blockage had caused severe kidney damage. Within a year, baby Andrew was placed on dialysis while Tara and Kevin struggled to get him to a proper weight so he could be eligible for a life-saving kidney transplant.

Then in March 2011, Tara gave Andrew life for the second time, when she donated one of her kidneys.

“The donation part was easy,” she said. “Who wouldn’t do that for her child? There was so much preparation to get him ready, so for us it was incredible finally getting to that day.”

And today, he’s no different than any of his peers.

“It’s funny what a new kidney will do to you,” said Tara.

And yet, the Johnsons are already planning for Andrew’s next challenge – the likelihood that he will need another kidney in his teenage years. Kevin is a blood type match and will likely be the next donor in line.

“Although kidney transplants are lasting longer and longer, they still don’t last forever,” said Kevin. “And yet who knows what advances in medical technology will mean for Andrew?”

The Johnson family is now using their story to spread awareness about kidney disease and the need for organ donors and kidney research. The family participated in the Boston Kidney Walk in October.

“Andrew has been able to live beautifully for the past four years because of research and advances that have been supported and advocated for by the National Kidney Foundation,” Tara said. “We’re walking to bring people together, and to celebrate the positive outcomes for everyone like Andrew.”

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3 thoughts on “Tot Saved by Mother’s Transplant

  1. Thank you, Sandy! Andrew is now 5 years and is growing Beautifully. We are very, very blessed. We are also looking forward to participating in the Boston walk this Fall.
    Tara (Andrew’s mom)

  2. This is an amazing story. It mirrors ours. We discovered our sons PUV at 17 wks gestations with our girl/boy twins. His blockage was so bad and had quickly refluxed. At 24 wks we begged for a bladder drain. Which our doctor did. Within two wks his bladder and kidneys were filled again. We asked for a shunt to be placed but because of his prognosis, they said they wouldn’t do it. Through ultrasounds, they didn’t think his lungs were developing correctly. They were also afraid of the risk to our twin daughter. Doctors called children’s hospitals in los angeles and San Francisco, but none would do the procedure. We had one last meeting with our doctor and told him we understood the risk to his twin and we understood what the procedure would entail. But we believed in our Faith and we believed that God was in charge. He will make a way. Our doctor met with the board of directors and met with the Dean at Loma Linda University. We heard months later that it was an almost 5 hour debate on whether doctors should do the procedure… but in the end, they gave our doctor permission. The shunt was placed in our son at 30 weeks. At 31 weeks I went into labor due to a placental abruption. Our son and daughter were born alive and breathing!! It was, however, a very very long and arduous road to recovery. Our daughter was in the NICU for 8 weeks. Our son was in the NICU for 5 months. He was placed on peritoneal dialysis at 2 weeks old. He has had 8 surgeries for replacement and revisions. We have face death in the face more than enough times. But God has a plan for our son. Our son was discharged on November 20, 2014. He is still on dialysis for 16 hours at night… but he is home.. where he belongs. Next month he will have another surgery for his PUV and bladder… and we are just waiting to hit that 22 pound mark for a kidney transplant.

    Just had to tell you thank you for sharing your story. I haven’t heard of many people that have shared an experience like ours. Your story gives me more hope to see his future.

    Thank you again and God Bless

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