Local 2-year-old to finally receive kidney transplant delayed by COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily put a moratorium on elective surgeries, a category that surprisingly included a critical kidney transplant for a baby boy from Santa Barbara.
Hudson Nash, who turns 2 years old in August, was originally scheduled to receive a new kidney on April 21, but the designation of transplants as “elective” surgeries meant the procedure had to be delayed. This left his parents Jamie and Andrew Nash worried, as their son undergoing dialysis became an increasing possibility.
However, as lifted restrictions now allow for elective surgeries to go forward, Hudson is scheduled to have his procedure on July 7. In an interview with the News-Press, Ms. Nash said the transplant going forth is “very much a relief” for her and her family.
Ms. and Mr. Nash knew that Hudson would have kidney issues before he was born. While Ms. Nash was pregnant with Hudson, he was prenatally diagnosed with kidney damage due to a lockage to his urethra. His parents were hopeful that the damage wouldn’t be too bad and that he would be able to live a normal life with one kidney, but when Hudson was born on Aug. 7, 2018, it was so severe that he only had between 10 to 15% use of both kidneys. The damage is irreversible.
Keeping Hudson alive with chronic kidney disease requires him taking eight medicines three times per day, getting daily shots, monthly blood draws, and many doctor visits. It will also require Hudson getting a few kidney transplants throughout his life, the first of which he is scheduled to receive next month. Donated kidneys function for an average of 15 to 20 years.
Ms. Nash told the News-Press that the transplant getting delayed in April was a very emotional turn of events and was surprised that such a serious operation was considered elective.
“It was surprising and very overwhelming,” she said.
Through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, Hudson’s family is raising money for the operation and the other expensive medical treatments he will have to undergo throughout his life. COTA helps families set fundraising goals for their children who need organ transplants after taking into account all factors surrounding the child’s treatment.
The family’s fundraising goal for the July operation is $150,000, which would cover not only medical expenses, but the transportation costs for the Nash family and the organ donor, 47-year-old North Carolina resident Paige Flotkoetter, to travel to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. According to Ms. Nash, the donor offered her kidney after reading about Hudson’s story in a Christmas card that Ms. Nash’s mother sent.
Ms. Nash glowingly referred to Ms. Flotkoetter as “the most amazing human.”
If it weren’t for the pandemic, the donor could take a commercial flight to Los Angeles, but under the current circumstances getting on one would risk Ms. Flotkoetter getting infected with COVID-19 and the procedure getting delayed further.
According to a press release, the Nash family’s infectious disease doctor recommended having the donor fly on a private plane, but the family didn’t have the means to charter one. Fortunately, a Santa Barbara woman donated flight hours through private business jet company NetJets to get Ms. Flotkoetter from North Carolina to Los Angeles. Between this and Ms. Floetkoetter donating her kidney, Ms. Nash expressed gratitude for the help her family has received throughout the ordeal leading up to her son’s kidney transplant.
“I’m just so thankful and it just really reminds you how amazing and kind people are,” she said.
She added that she appreciates how these donations were offered without her asking, as requesting help is a challenge for her.
“I’m not exactly the best at asking for help, so that’s probably been the hardest part for me,” she said.
In the lead-up to his kidney transplant, Hudson has been taking his regular plethora of medications and is currently on a feeding tube, as kidney disease takes away one’s appetite. He also recently underwent infusions to suppress antibodies that he had developed and needed to be rid of prior to receiving a new kidney. Ms. Nash explained that the antibodies had to be suppressed in order to prevent the possibility of them attacking Hudson’s new organ once it’s put in.
Ms. Nash recalled how seeing IVs put into a 22-month-old child is a difficult sight to behold.
“You feel like you’re torturing the poor little kid,” she said.
Hudson having to undergo antibody suppression was “a big curveball” thrown at the family since he was already tested for antibodies and nobody thought they would ever re-emerge.
“We weren’t expecting this at all because he was tested for these antibodies a year ago. We thought it was a check the box, you’re done type of scenario,” Ms. Nash said.
Hudson will receive his kidney transplant at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, the same hospital where he was born and frequently receives medical treatments. After undergoing the procedure, Ms. Nash, Mr. Nash, and their five-year-old daughter Brooklyn will stay in L.A. for at least six to eight weeks while Hudson has a series of follow-up treatments.
Though her family spends a great deal of time in L.A. so her son can get the care he needs to keep living, Ms. Nash said there are no plans to move away from Santa Barbara in order to be closer to Cedars.
“Santa Barbara is an amazing place and we have no desire to leave,” she said.
As of Friday night, Hudson’s COTA fundraising is at $92,173 out of its $150,000 goal. Donations can be made at https://cota.org/campaigns/COTAforaKidneyforHudson.