The ultimate gift: The joy of receiving

Editor’s Note: The kidney Kaylee Glennon received did not come from Kassandra Nelson.

Decked out head-to-toe in pink, Kaylee Glennon sat with her mom on Feb. 18, inside Starbucks at the U Hospital.

The 9-year-old from Elko, Nev., showed no obvious effects just five months after her long-anticipated kidney transplant.

Last Aug. 26, Kaylee’s mother Jill received a phone call that there may be a kidney available for her daughter.

“After I hung up the phone, I kept looking at the caller ID and said to myself, ‘OK you didn’t dream it. It’s real,'” Glennon said. “It’s like having a baby. You know you’re going to have it one day, but you’ve anticipated it for so long that now its here you aren’t quite sure what to do.”

Just one night before Jill received the news, the Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfilled her third-grader’s dream.

She had ventured down to the Delta Center to watch the Hilary Duff concert and meet the singer backstage.

Shortly after the concert, her mother’s wish was fulfilled.

“They called at 12:30 in the morning and gave the news…and then said they’d call back about four to give more details,” Jill said. “They keep you up all night, so I had the house clean.”

The road traveled

The mother and daughter duo traveled from Elko, Nev., regularly for Kaylee’s dialysis treatments.

“She had been transplanted before and it being her second transplant, she had a lot of antibodies, so she was hard to match,” her mother said.

To that point, dialysis was a way of life for the energetic girl. She endured it three days a week and had to sit for three hours each time, Jill said. “They can’t do anything.”

Kaylee is very talkative, according to her mom. But the girl said very little during the interview except to remind her mom that during dialysis she wasn’t allowed to “eat, drink or stand.”

After Kaylee withstood treatments for three hour per day, three times a week for two and half years, her mom began to wonder if the transplant list even existed. She said it became frustrating when people would ask where her daughter was on the list when she knew she was on the top of it, Jill said.

Despite the rough days in the past, Kaylee, who was now sipping her mom’s coffee, knew what she was waiting for. “I had to get a kidney,” the little girl said.

Life goes on

Kaylee’s mother has seen several significant improvements since the transplant.

“She’s always tolerated her disability. She doesn’t need naps as much as she needed before; sometimes I wish she still needed them,” Jill said. “She doesn’t feel as fragile as she did before the transplant…I felt like I could break her and you just grab a hold of her and she had nothing there. Now there’s a little bit of something there, not much but something.”

Although Kaylee has been pampered with pedicures and manicures during treatments with the nurses in the solid organ transplant program at the U Hospital, she said she still wants to go back to Nevada where her family and father live.Kaylee’s kidney transplant has freed up time for the little girl and her mother. With a big smile, Kaylee said she likes having her new kidney.

“I feel good now,” she said.

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