A local toddler with a rare birth defect needed a kidney transplant to live. His mother posted his story on Facebook, trying to reach out for help to as many people as she could. A physician assistant from Community Regional Medical Center was so moved by his story, she decided to do what she could to help.
Susie Leroy ended up being a match and donated one of her kidneys to three-year old Kaleb Perry. She didn’t know the Perry family, but knew she had to do something to help Kaleb live.
There was barely a dry eye in the room, when Susie walked into her very own honor walk. Hundreds of Susie’s colleagues at Community Regional honored the physician assistant for donating one of her kidneys to Kaleb.
Susie commented, “It’s really true what they say, that it’s better to give than to receive and I 100-percent feel like we, my family and I have been blessed so much by this.”
Mandy Perry is Kaleb’s mother. She said, “We have been just trying to show Susie however we can how much she means to us.”
The two moms had never met before May 2018. And now, they are life-long friends. Mandy said it was last year when she was in search of a kidney match for Kaleb. Kaleb was two-years old at the time. He was born with the rare birth defect called prune belly syndrome.
“Prune belly syndrome is, it’s a rare disorder, it’s one in 40,000. Many doctors have never even heard of it, and so basically it means that there’s a lack of abdominal muscles so they call it prune belly because the belly, it’s very floppy and wrinkly to where it looks like a prune,” described Mandy.
Prune belly syndrome can cause kidney disease or kidney failure.
Mandy said, “Kaleb was born with stage 2 kidney disease, but then stage 5 would be end stage renal failure which would require a transplant.”
She started a Facebook page called “A Miracle for Kaleb”, and began to tell his story and raise awareness for the disease. Susie was one of 7,000 online followers.
Susie stated, “I just kept following and praying along when they needed it, and he had a lot of different struggles.”
She was deeply inspired by the Perry family’s story. From one mother to another, Susie decided to see if she could be Kaleb’s match.
“I had to really think about it. Is this something, I didn’t ever plan on donating a kidney, that was never, I’ve known anyone to get a kidney, it’s never been on my radar, but it was heavy on my heart,” Susie commented.
Susie passed every round of tests, and quickly realized her kidney was the perfect match for Kaleb.
Mandy remembered, “Right before his transplant, she sent me a message and said, ‘Hey, I just wanted you to know the past six months I’ve been going through testing and looks like I’m going to be a match for Kaleb’, and I was just totally, I was shocked.”
The two mothers met in person just two months before the transplant surgery. On the day of the procedure, Susie and Kaleb were in neighboring operating rooms and the transplant was successful.
“Organ donation, it sounds scary, but it’s really like, you’re saving a life,” said Mandy.
Susie said she’s felt strong and healthy since the transplant, but more importantly, Kaleb is doing great and has hit a huge milestone of turning three-years old. Mandy is forever grateful to Susie for saving her son’s life.
“He’s a miracle and I’m so, I’m just really thankful, I mean he’s brave and he is a gift,” cried Mandy.
Susie ended, “It’s a huge gift that you can give someone… I highly recommend it because there’s people out there, there’s thousands of people on the transplant list.”
There are two ways to register as an organ donor. You can do it online or in person at your local motor vehicle department. All you need is your driver’s license or photo identification number, and you can sign up to save lives.