Parents plead for help: their toddler needs a kidney soon

The search for a kidney transplant donor for 17-month old Isaiah Hernandez is a race against time.

Parents plead for help: their toddler needs a kidney soon

CREATED Mar 28, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
Web Producer: Chuck Meyer

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's not an easy thing to ask -- especially of complete strangers. But a family is hoping someone will come forward to donate -- not money -- but a kidney.

The parents of 17-month-old Isaiah Hernandez say their son needs a kidney transplant and time is of the essence.

Terri Hernandez described her son as "an active 17-month-old. He's fun loving. He loves to play." But Isaiah has many moments when he's too tired to play. He was born with end stage renal failure. In and out of the hospital -- undergoing multiple surgeries -- all of his life -- has taken a toll on the tenacious toddler.

"He wants to sleep all the time. He needs a lot of fluids to keep him hydrated. His kidneys need to be hydrated so he doesn't end up in the hospital. Any little thing could set his kidney function all over the place and he'll be back in the hospital for more than a day," said Hernandez.

His mother, Terri, says Isaiah's medical condition has not improved, so the kidney transplant team decided it was time to look for a live donor for Isaiah. "He needs a kidney transplant because being on dialysis is very hard on the body, especially for a baby," said Hernandez.

Isiah is being treated at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Isiah's doctors says that the toddler's survival is not the main issue -- rather it's how well he grows or develops during his lifetime.

Dr. Tun Jei, UAMC's transplant surgeon, said he wants to move forward with finding a live kidney donor because avoiding dialysis at such a young age is critical.  Even a short amount of time on dialysis could alter normal growth and have devastating long-term affects. "When they're in their 50's, they are no taller than a 6 year old because they miss the opportunity to grow -- that impacts not only on the physical, the mental, everything," said Dr. Jei.

The Hernandez family is hoping that a donor can be found so Isaiah can live a long and full life. "We want him to survive -- to live a long time. It is hard to find donors -- for kidneys especially."

According to the National Kidney Foundation, the number of Americans waiting for kidney transplants increases every month. About 83,000 patients are awaiting kidney transplants.

If you want to help Isaiah, a call to the UAMC'S Transplant Center starts a pre-screening process -- and that can be done over the phone. The number is 520.694.6174.

The donor has to be an adult, but smaller in size so the kidney is a better match for isaiah.