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Karine's Story

Giving one of my kidneys to my daughter was a hard decision to make.

It all started with her daughter Naélie’s seemingly trivial urinary tract infection on returning from a trip to Cuba. During a check-up the following week, Naélie’s pediatrician noticed that her blood pressure was abnormally high. The doctor ordered an ultrasound and additional tests and followed up with a biopsy, which revealed that Naélie had this rare disease. The news hit Karine hard — she had never heard of the disease and knew that there was no family history of kidney-related diseases.

The disease progressed quickly, and Naélie’s kidney function dropped to 40%. She was immediately transferred to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Three months later, Karine had to come to terms with the fact that her daughter, whose kidney function was still declining, would have to start peritoneal dialysis. That called for the insertion of a catheter, but it got blocked quickly during the initial dialysis sessions. After a few complications, Naélie finally started dialysis in earnest, and soon afterwards, the decision was made to remove both her kidneys.

Following the nephrectomy, mother and daughter returned home, but with zero renal function, Naélie had to undergo peritoneal dialysis nightly for 12 hours.

The possibility of a transplant arose in November. Karine asked if she could be assessed as a potential living donor. In March, she received confirmation that she qualified as a donor for her daughter. At around the same time, Karine found out that Naélie’s illness was not genetic, but idiopathic — its cause was unknown. Given her young age and the speed at which the disease was progressing, there was a high risk that it would return after the transplant.

In August, further complications arose, and Naélie had to have a new catheter inserted, one that would allow her to do her dialysis treatment three to four times a week. At that moment, after giving it serious thought, Karine decided to give one of her kidneys to her daughter. The transplant was scheduled for October 30.

Faced with the constraints, Karine decided to rent an apartment because she couldn’t imagine travelling 300km three times a week, back and forth between the hospital and her home. Unfortunately, Naélie caught a cold the day before the operation, so it had to be cancelled. A second attempt was made in November and this time around everything went smoothly.