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Life

Toddler with rare disease has sharp health decline, then dad steps in giving her his kidney

October 9th, 2019

Having a baby is such an exciting time, but it can also be a very stressful one as there are all kinds of things that can go wrong. It’s only natural that new moms and dads tend to worry about every possibility and worst case scenario, hoping with all their might that their child will be born happy and healthy, but some couples, like Karen Rodas and Paul Rybkin, experience firsthand what can happen when things go wrong.

Kaen and Paul were initially thrilled to say hello to their baby boy, Nathaniel, but had to say goodbye to him just 36 hours later.

Nathaniel was born with a rare, life-threatening condition known as Polycystic Kidney Disease. The main symptom of this disease is the development of cysts inside the kidneys, and it often leads to kidney failure, which can be fatal. In Nathaniel’s case, it was too much to bear for a newborn baby.

The couple had the courage to try for another baby and welcomed their daughter, Maddy, into the world in 2013. Sadly, little Maddy was born with the exact same disease.

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Paul Rybkin/Facebook Source: Paul Rybkin/Facebook

Fortunately, Maddy made it through her first days and weeks, but the disease was affecting her quite severely. Her stomach swelled up and she spent the first 18 months of her life in and out of hospital, requiring specialized treatments.

Then, her condition started to get even worse. She was sleeping for up to 18 hours each day, having no energy at all and vomiting all the time. Her parents were living in a constant state of stress, made much worse when doctors gave Karen and Paul the news they were so scared to hear: their daughter was going to die without a kidney transplant.

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Paul Rybkin/Facebook Source: Paul Rybkin/Facebook

Fortunately, heroic dad Paul stepped up and was identified as a perfect match, able to give his daughter a kidney and save her life.

“We have been on a rollercoaster – but any father would have done what I did, donating my kidney to Maddy. It’s part of being a parent,” said Paul.

Karen, meanwhile, recounted to The Mirror how stressful the experience was for her: “With Paul and Maddy, two of my most precious souls, going under the knife, my nerves were a wreck. Daddy’s kidney has saved our little girl. Now, she has boundless energy. Her massive tummy now just looks a little bit rounded and she is a happy and healthy two-year-old.”

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Paul Rybkin/Facebook Source: Paul Rybkin/Facebook

Maddy’s kidney problems aren’t over for good. She’ll need another transplant, but not for another 25 years.

In the meantime, she’s living a happy, healthy, normal life, graduating from pre-school earlier this year.

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A Kidney For Madeline/Facebook Source: A Kidney For Madeline/Facebook

Maddy was born with little hope and a condition that threatened her life, but the wonders of modern medicine and the boundless love of her father helped to save her.

This wonderful, inspiring story shows us how precious and fragile life can be. It’s vital to make the most of every second we have and treasure all of our nearest and dearest each day.

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