Toddler with kidney disease is her mother’s “tangible miracle”

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kidney disease is epidemic in adults because of diabetes and high blood pressure. It's easy to forget that kids can have kidney disease, too. Some are born with it.

Lacy Ewing, 2,  is her mother's talking and walking miracle. At 20-weeks gestation, an ultrasound exam showed Lacy had no kidneys. Doctors said she could not survive after birth. For weeks, there was still no sign of kidneys on ultrasound.

"It was devastating. You're mourning a baby before it's even in the world. I mean, it was just -- no one should have to bear a cross like that," Tiara Hodges-Ewing said.

Then at 32-weeks along, an MRI spotted some kidney tissue. Lacy's survival chances jumped to 25 percent.

"And that was great for us. I was like -- I'll take it. Like that was amazing," Hodges-Ewing said.

Lacy beat those long odds, too, but her kidneys were and are far from normal.

"This is anything but kidney-bean shaped. Not only is it malformed, it doesn't function well," said Dr. Bradley Warady as he looked at an image of one of Lacy's kidneys.

Care at Children's Mercy Hospital has brought Lacy a long way.

"With a lot of medical management and good nutritional management, she's been able to really thrive, but with impaired kidney function," Dr. Warady said.

He said Lacy needs a new kidney and she'll get one in May. Her uncle, a doctor in Wichita, will be the donor.

"For him to volunteer, I didn't even ask, is just incredible," Hodges-Ewing said.

Dr. Warady added, "The fact that adults can give kidneys to young children is something that's not well-recognized, but the best donor for a child is actually an adult."

A long life is now possible for the little girl who wasn't supposed to survive birth.

"I had a miracle, a tangible miracle that I put hands on every day and we thank God every day," Hodges-Ewing said.

Lacy's uncle will donate his kidney at the University of Kansas Hospital. Then it will be transported to Children's Mercy for Lacy's surgery. Children's Mercy has done close to 300 kidney transplants over the years.

March 10th is World Kidney Day, and this year's focus is on children.