The National Kidney Foundation’s research shows on average 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney transplant waiting list every month. An average of 13 people die every day waiting for a donor.
Three-year-old Liam Addis never had to be put on the waiting list despite a kidney disease diagnosis in the womb.
“I absolutely imagined my life without him because of the diagnosis that we got. You’ll do whatever it takes to prevent your nightmare from coming true,” said Liam’s father, Mitch Addis.
Doctors told Mitch and Sarah Addis their son would likely need a kidney transplant by early adolescence. But two infections in the summer of 2016 meant Liam needed a new kidney at the age of three.
Liam’s father, mother and aunt didn’t hesitate to volunteer to donate one of their kidneys.
With both women still in child-bearing years, the family agreed Mitch was the best fit.
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“Before I had kids that kind of stuff is not really fathomable,” Mitch said, “But after you do [have kids], there’s no hesitation, no thought about it.”
“Once you’re a parent, it’s not a question of would you do it, it’s when is this going to happen,” Liam’s mother, Sarah said.
With the match in place, doctors moved quickly to get Liam and Mitch ready for surgery. On Jan. 10, with the support of family and friends, Sarah waited for hours at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital while two of the men she loves most in this world underwent major surgery at the same time. Sarah wasn’t able to see Liam for 12 hours.
She said she could feel the prayers and support because she felt a sense of calm in the most stressful time in her life.
“Being a mom to a kidney kid has taught me, I’m not in as much control as I’d like to be. I put my trust in God and prayed for the best,” said Sarah.
Liam experienced some complications but doctors call both surgeries a success.
“I don’t think I’ll do anything better than this,” Mitch said.
Because Liam finally had the kidney function he needed for the first time in his life, his recovery was swift, even faster than his father.
“Liam was sitting up on day two, taking steps on day three. Mitch was barely getting into a wheelchair on day three. It’s harder on the donor,” Sarah said.
Mitch and Sarah didn’t think it was possible, but Liam actually has more energy now than ever before.
Life will not always be easy for Liam. He has liquid intake requirements, a catheter and multiple daily medications. He will likely need another transplant before he turns 30 years old.
But even at such a young age, Liam already recognizes that his father is his hero. His parents are willing to do everything in their power to make sure he has a chance to succeed.
“We’re so excited to see what he’s got in store, what his future holds,” Sarah said.
Liam and his mom stayed in Cincinnati for six weeks to be near the hospital and make sure he didn’t have any rejection issues. He is now back home and in daycare again.
Mitch returned to work three weeks after surgery.
There is no cure for kidney disease. The Addis family supports the National Kidney Foundation in hopes of finding a cure for Liam. You can support Liam at this year’s East Tennessee Kidney Walk (June 4 at UT Gardens) by clicking here.