Three days a week, four hours per appointment -- you can find Alicia Moreno at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital with her son Anderson.
"Right now, the next step is truly getting him healthy enough where he could receive a kidney," she says.
The five-year-old West Michigan Whitecaps fan has been in need of a kidney nearly his whole life because of complications after getting a heart transplant just shy of his first birthday. He was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at six months old, and following the procedure, he was diagnosed with end stage renal disease.
"He needed the tracheostomy that he currently has, and he also needed dialysis," Moreno says. "His kidneys just weren't working."
Anderson started on dialysis in February 2017, and he got on the transplant list last November. After a few months, Moreno says she needed to try something new.
"I have a sticker on my car and it says 'A child on board needs a kidney,'" she says.
Since then, the Big Rapids family has had a couple of people reach out and even go through compatibility testing. They were almost successful, but then COVID-19 got in the way.
"We had a donor that we had at one point found," Moreno says. "She was a great candidate, but she contracted COVID-19, and she's now suffering from her own lung issues and having problems."
Even Anderson got COVID-19 too, and he's been recovering for the last few months. His mom hopes they can find the perfect fit for him soon.
The family is searching for someone that's at least 18 years old, 'B' or 'O' positive or negative blood type and is relatively healthy. Doctors tell the family the ideal candidate doesn't have diabetes or heart disease, and has good blood pressure.
Moreno says her son is a happy and active child, and he is now learning to walk.
"That's been an exciting time in our house," she says. "We're getting into everything and what we feel we missed out on in those earlier months while we were waiting for a (heart) transplant."
She hopes someone sees their sticker either online or while they're out and about so Anderson can have another shot.
"He does everything with a smile," Moreno says. "He has his bad and tough days, but he doesn't complain too much. He's a pretty great kid."
She says she also knows that the reality of organ donation can be like a double-edged sword, like when their son got their heart transplant when he was a baby.
"We were absolutely elated, but then you take a step back and you grieve for the families," Moreno says. "I'm hopeful that we don't have to wish for a deceased donor and I'm hopeful that we're able to find someone that will willingly give us a kidney and will willingly give us another chance."
If you would like to get in contact with the Moreno family, you can call (231) 527-8132.
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