LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It has only been a couple months since bright-eyed Ruby Peeler walked into Arkansas Children's Hospital for a kidney transplant.
At only 2-years-old, her journey into the hospital room was filled with major roadblocks and surprises. The first surprise was getting the diagnosis. Her father, Michael Peeler, said that when they got the news, the family was preparing to leave on a vacation. That was quickly halted.
The journey to the doctor’s office started when Ruby’s parents found Ruby had become very anemic. Her body also wasn't growing properly. When all those complications arose, her parents weren't sure exactly what the culprit was.
That's when Ruby’s doctor explained what was happening. Doctor Eileen Ellis, a pediatric Nephrologist with ACH, said the problem with chronic kidney disease is that the symptoms are kind of insidious so you don't necessarily know there is something wrong with the kidneys.
“In Ruby’s case, she was born with one kidney that didn't function well,” said Dr. Ellis.
After seeing the kidney failure, ACH doctors broke the news to the Peeler family that Ruby would need a new kidney. Ruby’s mother, Betsy Peeler, said there was one major roadblock to that happening.
“Since she was so small we had to get her to a certain point where she was able to receive either an adult size kidney or somebody who is over the age of 18,” said Betsy. “We couldn't put a small kidney in her unless it was a deceased donor.”
There was not one available at the time. That’s When Ruby’s dad, Michael, said he would be the donor.
“That was the easiest decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “If it could be me then I wanted it to be me.”
As the family was planning Ruby's operation and her father's operation, a miracle happened. They got the call that there was another kidney available from a deceased donor and it was an even better match for Ruby. Ruby’s mother said that was the biggest gift of all.
“It allowed Ruby to have that gift and Michael to be with us as we all recovered,” she said.
Ruby went into surgery shortly after and the transplant was a success. The day Ruby was able to leave the hospital, the hospital threw her a “happy kidney” party. It was a big celebration with all of Ruby’s healthcare providers and everybody who had a part in making her well. They all had cake and Ruby opened some presents.
“It was a wonderful experience to be able to celebrate that,” said Betsy.
Ruby recently turned 3-years-old and she is recovering well. Her family is full of hope for her future.
“Every day it gets a little better,” said Michael. “Every day gets better.”
Dr. Ellis said there are typically about 20-30 kids at any given time in ACH awaiting dialysis or kidney transplants. She said it is important for parents to consistently monitor their child's growth and development, making sure they are growing and developing normally and obtaining all the immunizations they need. She said there are signs that your child might be suffering from kidney failure. Those include, but are not limited to, growth issues, bone disease and anemia. Dr. Ellis and the Peeler family encourage people to consider becoming organ donors to help save lives like Ruby's.
You can contact Arkansas Children's Hospital if you are interested in donating to help support more celebrations for patients who undergo major surgeries like Ruby’s.