We start an incredible three part series that is a month in the making. We meet a mother and son from Whitewood, in the Black Hills, who made the trip across the state to come to Sioux Falls and Avera McKennan for a live donor kidney transplant. We met up with the Picketts the day before their life changing surgeries.
Jonah Pickett, his fiancé Morgan Basker (they live in Sturgis) and Jonah's mom Susan Pickett (she lives in Whitewood) are getting their last briefing with Avera Transplant Surgeon Dr. Tariq Khan before their surgeries. Susan is giving her son the greatest gift of all; one of her kidney's. We only need one to live a normal healthy life. In June of 2009, Jonah (who lives in Sturgis) went to the ER in Rapid City after a week of unbearable headaches and after his face swelled up to the point he's hardly recognizable. He went to the eye doctor thinking his eyes were causing him problems. That wasn't the cause. Then he figured it might be hay fever. It turned out it was from all the toxins building up in this bloodstream.
Jonah says, "I was in the ER from 5:00 to 11:00 when they finally rushed me to the OR, put a catheter in my neck to do dialysis and told me my kidneys had failed."
He was only 24 and diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy.
Dr. Khan says, "Actually, his own body has formed these antibodies that go and attack his own kidney tissue. Eventually his kidney stops working."
Since June Jonah has been hooked up to a dialysis machine three hours a day, three days a week. That's why he wants a transplant so badly.
Jonah says, "When I first started with the fistula for dialysis and would be sticking needles into my arm I thought I would get used to it. You don't."
Dr. Khan says, "The best possible treatment is a kidney transplant. Luckily, he got a live donor in instead of waiting on the transplant list for so long at his young age."
When Jonah's Mom found out her youngest of 5 children needed a kidney, she immediately said she would get tested to see if she was a match. She was and never gave it a second thought to give him one of hers.
Susan says, "He's my child and I will do whatever it takes to make him healthy. If it would have happened to me I wouldn't have thought twice about it, but to happen to him so young, it breaks my heart. To see him go through this . None of us like to see our children suffer so we just do what we can. His father has diabetes so he couldn't even be tested. My other children were all willing to do the same, but I insisted I be tested first. I'm the mom. That's what we do."
Neither of them is nervous about their surgeries the following day. Susan knows they are in good hands and lots of people are praying for them. Jonah is just looking forward to getting his life back and he knows he has him mom to thank for that.
The next time we see them they'll both be on operating tables. We get an unprecedented seat in 2 operating rooms at Avera McKennan to watch as Dr. Khan and his team perform a live kidney transplant.