— -- A 2-year-old Alabama girl has a new lease on life thanks to a kidney donation from her 62-year-old grandmother, who was a perfect match.
Wryn Graydon of Moody, Alabama, was diagnosed at 2 months old with congenital nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disorder that the National Institutes of Health says is caused by genetic defects.
Wryn had both of her kidneys removed two months after the diagnosis and then was put on dialysis at home, her father, Michael Graydon, said.
As doctors waited for Wryn to be old enough and strong enough for a kidney transplant, her family wondered whether any among them would be able to donate their own kidney.
“Everybody wanted to be a match so bad,” Graydon told ABC News. “My wife [Haley] and I didn’t know who to choose to get tested first. I had kidney stones so I knew I wouldn’t be a possibility and my wife was the primary caregiver, so they wouldn’t let her do it.”
Graydon’s parents, Carol and Mike Graydon, were among the first family members to be tested. After extensive testing, it was Carol Graydon, 62, who came back as a perfect match for her granddaughter.
Carol Graydon’s good health -- she was told she had the kidneys of a 20-year-old -- allowed her to move forward as Wryn’s donor.
“Having a living and a related donor allowed us to schedule the transplant as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Dan Feig, division director of Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who treated Wryn. “A very, very healthy 62-year-old is terrific so we were thrilled to be able to move forward.”
Graydon found out his mom could be Wryn’s kidney donor when Carol Graydon, who lives in the neighboring town of Springville, Alabama, surprised him at work to share the news.
“There are so many emotions that hit you,” he said. “We’re big believers in God so we trust in him. But from the medical side we know what can go wrong and this was my mom and daughter.”
Mike Graydon said his wife had "no hesitation" about being the donor for Wryn.
"There was no hesitation at all," he said. "There were concerns also but when you weigh being able to give the gift that will change Wryn’s life for many years to come, and also Michael’s and Haley’s."
Carol Graydon and Wryn underwent their kidney transplant last week at neighboring hospitals in Birmingham. While Graydon waited at the bedside of Wryn, his father texted him updates from Carol Graydon’s surgery.
“He was sending me texts, ‘The incision is done. The kidney is out and headed your way,’” Graydon recalled.
After the nearly three-hour procedure, the kidney transplant between grandmother and granddaughter was declared a success.
“When my mom was able to come over in her wheelchair and see Wryn, it’s almost like they had some type of immediate connection,” Graydon said. “They were already close to begin with but Wryn just perked up that day and was very happy and laughing and being her normal self after seeing my mom.”
Mike Graydon said his wife was "adamant" about seeing Wryn quickly post-transplant, and described the emotions of it all.
"The first time I saw her, and I wasn’t even the donor, I had to back away because it’s just so much emotion," he said. "I had to gather myself before I went back to her."
Wryn is awaiting discharge from the hospital and then will go home to live a normal life, without the constraints of dialysis. An average kidney transplant lasts 15 years so Wryn will likely need another transplant but is now doing “terrifically well,” Dr. Feig said.
Carol Graydon is now recovering at home and dealing with a side effect of being a kidney donor, exhaustion. But the family is also bracing for a positive side effect from Wryn’s receiving a kidney: energy.
“We’re excited about it but also scared,” Graydon said of him and his wife, who also have a 5-year-old daughter. “She was already our wild child.”