Once Richards learned she was a donor match, they transplanted her kidney into Anaya and removed Anaya’s two bad kidneys. Although they initially told Richards the transplant was a success, it failed two hours later when a blood clot did irreparable damage to the new kidney after it was transplanted.
And things would get worse before they got better.
The swelling from Anaya’s protein deficiencies and infections were made worse by the anesthesia, causing Anaya’s trachea to collapse when doctors tried to remove her breathing tube. When Richards went to visit her in a wheelchair, she said she remembers hearing the beeping of the machines and feeling as if she was in some horrible movie when the beeping stopped and Anaya went into respiratory arrest.
“I turned and I looked at Anaya. They were still pumping her. 'You are going to go through this and you will fight,'" Richards recalled telling her daughter.
Anaya pulled through with a tracheostomy and escaped with no neurological damage, but it would be a few months before a new kidney would become available. Since Anaya was so young, she was moved to the top of the kidney transplant waiting list, which has different sets of rules than other organ transplant waiting lists because kidneys from adults can be placed into small children.
Since Anaya was on dialysis for the two months leading up to her transplant, her protein levels returned to almost normal, preventing her blood from abnormally clotting like it did during the first transplant.
Now, Ayana is almost 4 years old. She is learning Mandarin Chinese at her preschool and was voted “most likely to become president” in her class.
“Each visit is like a treat because we get to see her develop in a way her kidney function is not a factor –- it’s a non-issue for her development,” Saland said. “[We] get to see her blooming.”