A mother?s gift of life

This Christmas, Krista Richert will celebrate a successful kidney transplant with daughter Lindsey, age 9.There?s no greater present someone can give to another than the gift of life. For the Richert family of Hillsboro, that special moment was when mother Krista gave her child, Lindsey, one of her kidneys.

?The fact that a person can live a healthy life with only one kidney, and God gave us spare parts, is a miracle in itself,? Krista said. ?For us personally, God intervened with perfect timing.?

Problems from birth

Lindsey?s kidney problems began with birth on June 14, 2006, Krista said. Doctors told them most of Lindsey?s kidneys were scar tissue; they never did identify a cause, but her symptoms were labeled Fanconi syndrome.

When Krista gave birth to Lindsey, husband Pete was in Iraq and couldn?t be with them.

?Her original pediatrician first noticed the issues and she sent us to Children?s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City,? Krista said. ?The doctor knew we would need a kidney specialist.?

A lot of testing was done to make sure it was Lindsey?s kidneys and to see if they could identify a cause. Some tests were to determine if the condition was genetic or random, or if the cause was disease-related.

For a period of time during Pete?s rehabilitation after being wounded in a bomb attack in February 2007, Lindsey was on medication management.

?Once back in Kansas, she was very closely watched with blood tests to see where her kidney function was at,? Krista said. ?We knew that we would eventually be doing dialysis and hopefully a transplant, but we didn?t know when. It was up to Lindsey?s kidneys.?

Kidney function

By 2012, her kidney function had decreased and the Richerts began peritoneal dialysis at home.

Krista said they ran into complications, which caused Lindsey to need several surgeries, including the removal of a kidney.

?This process actually bought us more time before needing to start dialysis,? Krista said. ?Lindsey made it until March of 2014 before the doctor said it was time again that she needed dialysis. We watched her very closely until the beginning of June.?

Due to give birth to Micah in April, Krista said the doctor wanted her to deliver and be healthy before starting the stressful journey of kidney donation.

?In June, just a few days before her eighth birthday, Lindsey went into surgery to get her hemodialysis catheter put in,? Krista said.

It was also when dialysis began.

?This time, dialysis went very smoothly, for the most part, and spending five hours, three times a week, at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita became Lindsey?s routine.

?It was late 2014 when the doctors evaluated Lindsey and said she was healthy enough to start the transplant process,? Krista said.

The process began at Children?s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where they met with many people who would be on Lindsey?s team.

?Every person had to sign off and say, ?Yes, Lindsey was physically and mentally ready for this and, as her family, we were ready, too.??

Testing for a match

Getting tested to see if Krista was a match didn?t happen until recently.

The first option was being put on a ?deceased donor? list or having other people tested to see if they could be a live donor.

?We knew pretty early on that I wanted to be tested,? she said.

When the tests came back, Krista said was declared a match, but son Micah wasn?t even a year old.

?I was still breastfeeding, and I didn?t feel right about taking that special thing away from him,? Krista said. ?Once Micah was ready and I felt he would be OK with everything, we decided to get things started again with me being the donor.?

Krista said she never considered not donating her kidney.

?Watching her from a baby being in pain and having to go through all her struggles made me constantly wish there was a way to take on her pain.

?I feel so blessed to be able to help her out,? she added. ?It is something not very many mothers and daughters get to share.?

Kidney transplant

The transplant procedure was Nov. 16; by Nov. 20, Krista was released, but Lindsey would be hospitalized longer. Pete stayed at the Ronald McDonald House during that time.

It?s been more than a month since the surgeries. Krista said seeing Lindsey heal so quickly has made her feel ?old.?

?I am definitely exhausted and normal daily activities take a lot longer,? she said.

The doctors said it would take maybe six months for Krista to feel like her energy levels were back to normal.

?The donor recovery is a lot longer than the recipient,? she said. ?(Lindsey) gained a good organ and my body has to learn to coop without that organ.?

Prognosis

Krista said she will be fine, but needs to be careful about hurting the one kidney she has left.

?Lindsey?s health, however, will improve, but she will always have a medication management lifestyle until this kidney gives out and she needs another transplant,? she said.

Krista said she has had times when she was questioning, doubtful, fearful and struggling to keep believing that God had a plan.

?Every time these feelings crept in, God sent people and events into our lives to show us again that he loves us and keeps his promises,? she said.

The worst part was seeing their daughter hurting and wondering how it would to bring glory to God.

?I feel God really prepared us for this by going through Pete?s injuries in 2007,? Krista said. ?We have both seen and gone through the struggles, but now that we are almost nine years out from that, we have seen Pete?s testimony touch so many lives.

?Knowing that Lindsey has gone through all this at such a young age, she has a great attitude and still loves God that keeps our faith strong, too.?

The Richerts say the outpouring of help and love has been indescribable. Their family, church family, new and old friends have prayed with them, brought food and assisted with whatever needed to be done.

The Richerts? other two children, Riley, 6, and Micah, 2, are perfectly healthy.

?That is amazing,? Krista said. ?Like our pastor, Jerred Unruh, preached recently, ?Faith is not something we do on our own. God gave us the gift of faith.??

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