Aliyah Garcia’s final dialysis treatment was on Father’s Day 2015 – one day before she received the new kidney that would change her life. And, coincidentally, it was her father, Daniel, who provided that lifesaving kidney after finding out he was a match for his young daughter.
“I was amazed when Daniel said he would do it because he’s always been scared of needles,” said Brittany Nickles, Aliyah’s mom. “But he said he would get tested to see if he was a match first because I had always been the one in the hospital with her. It was a big relief, and we were excited to find out he was a match, because that meant we wouldn’t have to wait anymore.”
The surgery held great significance for little Aliyah, 4, who was born with a genetic mutation causing congenital nephrotic syndrome which led to massive protein excretion in her urine, swelling and scarring of her kidneys and ultimately kidney failure. Aliyah spent the first three months of her life at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. For about 18 months, she was on peritoneal dialysis, a form of dialysis done at home overnight while she slept.
“Taking care of anyone, particularly an infant, on dialysis is very challenging and requires tremendous dedication from the family,” said Dr. Elizabeth Brown, pediatric nephrologist at Children’s Health.
Medical complications caused Aliyah to need hemodialysis at the hospital four days a week for at least two to three hours per treatment. In addition to dialysis, Aliyah was unable to eat by mouth and required nasogastric and then gastric tube feedings as well as multiple medications.
Aliyah’s surgery day also marked a major milestone for the Pediatric Transplant Program. Her procedure was the 1,000th abdominal transplant performed at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, the flagship of Children’s Health℠.
“Few pediatric programs, or hospitals, have performed that many transplants,” said Dr. Dev Desai, director of the Pediatric Transplant Program and surgical director of the Renal Transplant Program. “It reflects the longstanding history of this program and the dedication of our staff and physicians.”
Dr. Brown says that although Aliyah did very well on dialysis, she has blossomed since her transplant.
“Her physical development, speech and eating improved dramatically after her transplant,” Dr. Brown said. “Transplantation, however, still requires multiple daily medications and frequent blood tests and doctor’s visits.”
Brittany noticed an immediate difference in Aliyah’s skin color and energy level. Only a couple of days after the transplant, Aliyah started eating and drinking. Daniel recovered well, and he enjoys watching Aliyah thrive with her new kidney.
“Aliyah has been a trooper throughout it all,” Brittany said. “Our girly girl is back to dressing up in heels and taking care of her baby dolls. She also has a lot of energy and runs around outside with her older sister. We are thankful that she is healthy now and always happy.”
Click on the video below to watch Aaliyah’s amazing story.