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Carrots and baths, oh my!

5-year-old doing great after kidney transplant

5-year-old doing great after kidney transplant

October 09, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - Jayden Miller eats carrots and loves taking a bath - two things many 5-year-olds would probably rather not do.

But just three months ago Jayden had little or no appetite and she hadn't taken a bath in a tub in 2 1/2 years.

The changes as well as the visible relief in the faces of her family are the result of a successful kidney transplant the Sharpsburg-area girl underwent July 8 at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

In March 2005, Jayden's mother, Stacey Miller, told The Herald-Mail she was hoping for a kidney from a live donor because she understood the transplant success rate was better than with a kidney from a deceased donor.

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No family members were a match, so the family spread the word that they were looking for a live donor.

Miller, 28, and Jayden's grandmother Paula McMurry say they found a woman willing to donate a kidney. The woman had to move from the area for personal reasons, but they were working together to schedule the transplant.

Meanwhile, they had switched Jayden's registry with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) from the University of Maryland Hospital for Children in Baltimore to Children's in the district, and Miller had learned the success rate for a kidney from a deceased donor wasn't that different from that of a live donor.

The length of time a kidney from a deceased donor lasts in a new patient has gotten closer to the life of a kidney from a live donor thanks to improvements in immunosuppression therapy, says Laurie Midgley, a nurse and transplant coordinator at Children's in the district.

Jayden had been on the UNOS list for about two years, Miller says. As of Friday morning, 68,055 people were on the waiting list for just a kidney transplant, according to www.unos.org.

Miller was taking Jayden to a Baltimore hospital for a doctor's appointment when she got a call on her cell phone that Children's in the district had a kidney from a deceased donor. Approaching the Interstate 270 exit on Interstate 70, she headed to Washington instead only to find out there was a problem with the kidney.

Miller says she was told to be ready to bring Jayden back to the hospital because it might not be long until another kidney was available. It was two days later while cleaning up after dinner that she got the call that a kidney was available from a deceased 22-year-old from the Washington area.

Jayden got her new kidney on the anniversary of her late great-grandfather's birthday. Paul Stockslager, of the Sharpsburg area, died in January from kidney complications, McMurry says.

"So we knew he had a hand in (Jayden's kidney transplant) and it would all work out fine and it has," McMurry says.

Five days after the transplant Jayden was home with a new kidney and on anti-rejection medications she will take for the rest of her life.

The little girl in pink had surprising energy before the transplant and now bounces around the family's home west of Sharpsburg almost as much as the family's new puppy.

"Between the two of them, they really wear me out," Miller says.

She weighs 43 pounds compared with 32 pounds before the transplant and eats plenty - "even carrots," Jayden Miller says, but not salad.

She no longer has to worry about becoming tangled in her dialysis tubes during sleep and happily shows off her Dora the Explorer tub toys.

"Now you sort of have to make an appointment for your bath" because Jayden doesn't want to get out, McMurry says.

Jayden wasn't able to start attending Sharpsburg Elementary School at the start of the school year because she was at the highest risk for infection during the first few months after the transplant. She had to take medicines that suppressed her immune system so her body wouldn't reject her new kidney, Midgley says.

But today she is expected to board a school bus to head to her first day of full-day kindergarten - one more change she's happy about.

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