A Texas grandmother celebrated Mother’s Day just months after donating a kidney to her toddler granddaughter.
“I feel like I’m the one that got the most blessing out of this,” Cindy Smith, 54, told FoxNews.com of her donation. “How many other grandmas got the chance to give a gift that is going to change this little girl’s life?”
The emotional rollercoaster for the San Antonio family began when Smith’s daughter, Kate Boddie was 20 weeks into her pregnancy. Doctors detected cysts on her unborn baby’s kidneys through an ultrasound. However, a firm diagnosis wouldn’t come until days after Boddie gave birth to a baby girl named Clara.
“It was the scariest thing that I’ve ever experienced,” Boddie told FoxNews.com. “They had induced me at 36 weeks and they put my baby in the NICU and she just kept getting worse and worse.”
Doctors determined Clara had end stage renal failure that was caused by congenitally abnormal kidneys. She had less than 10 percent kidney function and was placed on dialysis when she was six days old. It would be three months and three hospital transfers before Kate and her husband Daniel could take home their firstborn child, knowing that the need for a kidney transplant was in her immediate future.
Each night the Boddies would hook their daughter up to a dialysis machine for 11 hours as they each went through testing to determine who would make a better match for a donor. However, neither parent was found to be a match.
“I was pretty devastated because we had been counting on it for so long, and that was our plan and that just totally fell apart in one phone call,” Boddie said. For Smith though, the plan she had been ready for was just beginning.
“All along I said ‘Oh my goodness, I want to do this,’” Smith said of donating her kidney.
From a medical standpoint, a genetically-related match will also help prolong the time between this transplant and the need for Clara’s next one. It also lessens the likelihood that her body will reject the organ.
The tests proved Smith to be a match, and while the Boddies were thrilled to have a medical solution for Clara, the situation did bring extra worry for Kate.
“It was overwhelming relief because if you can get a living donor, then the odds of keeping the kidney longer and being more successful are a lot higher,” Boddie said. “It’s scary too, because it’s my mom and my baby at the same time.”
According to Dr. Eileen Brewer, medical director of kidney transplants at Texas Children’s Hospital where Clara’s surgery took place, a grandparent donating an organ to a grandchild accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of cases. Much of the decision relies on the health of the grandparent.
“I’ve been blessed with really good health, and I’m absolutely 100 percent sure that the reason for this health was for this moment. It was to give this gift to that precious girl,” Smith told FoxNews.com.
Both Smith and Clara had successful surgeries on March 26, 2015, and the now 21-month-old is able to consume solid foods for the first time. According to Brewer, Clara can now expect to have a normal, healthy childhood.
“Usually right after transplant, the small, young children who have some delay in development with gross motor skills -- maybe some speech -- really have rapid catch-up, so she can be expected to do very well,” Brewer said.
As for Boddie, the experience has brought a whole new meaning to the term “motherhood.”
“People are like ‘Oh I’m so sorry you’re going through this,’ but honestly, I don’t think people get to see how much their mom loves them firsthand like this, and I’ve got tangible proof in the form of my daughter because [my mom] saved her life,” Boddie said.
“It’s been tough but it’s amazing and it’s really brought our family close together.”
And as for Smith, she has plans to celebrate March 26 with Clara as their “special day” each year.
“She is the absolute light of my life,” Smith said of her granddaughter. “I couldn’t think of anything that I wouldn’t do for her, so this was a natural extension of that.”