A mother’s lifesaving gift to her son | Corewell Health

Since 2019, 13-year-old Isaac Fletcher and his family have been on a quest to find a kidney.

In 2019, he was diagnosed with kidney disease after an E. coli infection.

He eventually lost his kidney function almost completely and was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2019.

For three years, he and his mother Michelle will drive an hour from Ionia to Grand Rapids to get to their dialysis appointments three days a week.

And Isaac became a familiar face at Corewell Health’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

He befriends patients and staff on the road to transplantation. Isaac and his family spent hundreds of days in the dialysis clinic playing bingo, watching cartoons, or making arts and crafts.

“What do you want to do on your last day of dialysis?” asked child life expert Mimi Rassi.

“Video games, of course,” Isaac said.

After years of countless medical appointments, dialysis is coming to an end as Michelle is about to give her a special gift—one of her kidneys.

“He was a great kid and he was so smart and silly. He makes us laugh all the time,” said Liz Orme, a dialysis technician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Liz made Funfetti cupcakes covered with chocolate sprinkles, a special request from Isaac, to celebrate his last day on dialysis. Other team members stopped by with gifts and well wishes.

“It would certainly be strange without Isaac on dialysis. We have known him, his mother and his sisters very well for many years,” Liz said.

But they are delighted that Isaac’s kidney transplant means he will no longer need dialysis.

The Child and Family Life group hung a hand-drawn banner that read, “Good luck Michelle and Isaac!” with a thumb giving a thumbs up.

Long road to transplant

“We’ve been preparing for the idea of ​​a transplant for quite some time,” says Michelle. “It’s all just surreal.”

She said the whole process took almost two years to complete, and after all that time, it seemed crazy when the day finally arrived.

“Isaac was both excited and nervous on the big day,” she said.

His last fun before surgery included him and his father attending a Winter Jam concert at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.

Just a few days later, he and his mother underwent transplant surgery.

“We stayed in the hospital significantly less than we anticipated,” Michelle said.

Doctors told her that the average child would live about a week after a kidney transplant, and because Isaac’s condition was so complicated it would most likely take longer for him to recover.

“Isaac was released after just four days,” she said. “He did a great job.”

She said the first day he urinated nearly 13 liters.

“They really wanted to push the fluid to irrigate the kidneys,” says Michelle. “And we were told that was the best thing for it.”

And the good news is: Some of the problems Isaac and his family foresaw after the surgery, he never had to face.

Life at home

After only about a week of being able to go home from surgery, Isaac is back to a normal life and a better quality of life.

He is playing Lego and video games, dancing to music and playing cards and board games like Uno and Settlers with his four sisters Emma, ​​Anna, Elliana and Lillian.

She said: “He got used to drinking a lot after years of restricting his water intake while on dialysis.

Isaac is restricted to drinking 1 liter of water per day while on dialysis and must now aim to drink at least 2.5 liters per day.

And since his immune system is pretty suppressed by anti-rejection protocols, he hasn’t gotten to a lot of places yet.

But Isaac and his mother still visit the transplant clinic twice a week to this day.

“We were very pleased with everything,” Michelle said. “Everyone was very helpful, and everything went very well.”

“It was strange,” she said.

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