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Baltimore 4-year-old seeks kidney transplant, helps raise awareness for donor matches

4-year-old in dire need of kidney transplant raise awareness on social media
4-year-old in dire need of kidney transplant raise awareness on social media 02:29

BALTIMORE - A 4-year-old from Baltimore needs a kidney transplant and her journey is helping to raise awareness on social media for the "Living Donor Project."

The nonprofit aims to match a living donor to a child on the kidney transplant waitlist.  

John Medina, the co-founder of the "Living Donor Project," said while it may be a big ask of someone to donate their kidney, highlighting the need on social media may make a critical difference in a child's medical journey. 

"The more that we can share that, that's gonna help spread awareness about Lucy's condition. It's going to help share information about end-stage renal disease and, of course, it's going to help get this in front of the person who may just be the right match for her," Medina said. 

Lucy suffers from kidney disease and has spent the majority of her life in and out of hospitals, according to her mother Nicole Zais. 

"It's hard to realize how sick she actually is sometimes because it doesn't matter who, what, when or where, she's gonna light up your day," Zais said.

A pediatric kidney transplant procedure is important because it could mean a shorter stint on dialysis or keep a child off that type of therapy altogether, according to Dr. Jennifer Verbesey, the Living Donor Transplant Program Director at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute.

"When they are on dialysis, you have to be hooked up for many hours, several times a week to the machine," Verbesey said. "It's very hard for those kids to go to school. It's hard for them to have any kind of semblance of a normal life."

Verbesey said living donors compared to deceased donors tend to have healthier kidneys that work faster and last longer. 

The surgery, she added, typically allows the donor to go home the day after surgery and get back to their normal lives in just a few weeks. 

"I just think that it's important that the whole concept of a perfect match doesn't really exist, and that anyone who's interested should start the process," Verbesey said.

Adults are able to donate their spare kidney to a child, according to Verbesey. 

To learn more about kidney donation, click here.

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