Just seven days after Sawyer was born, he underwent the first of 10 surgeries. Four years later, he's still fighting. So is his mom, Jamie.
Jamie Dawes learned 8 months into her pregnancy that her growing baby boy’s kidneys, ureters and bladder would have issues. Just 7 days after his birth, baby Sawyer underwent the first of 10 surgeries. Each surgery presented new issues and complications from getting his weight up to controlling the reflux of his ureters.
His medical team managed to stabilize his kidney disease at stage 3 when Sawyer was just two and a half years old. He will eventually need a kidney transplant but his parents and doctors hope that step is still 2-5 years down the road.
Jamie learned early that she could never give her son a kidney. His blood type is O+, hers is not. She says that was hard to swallow at first: to not be able to give your child everything he needs to survive. But she was able to give another baby boy the gift of life.
A mutual friend told Jamie about another little boy in need of a new kidney. His own mother has a different blood type and his father was too tall to donate to such a small child. Jamie says her heart told her to be tested. At just 4’10” and with A+ blood, Jamie’s kidney was a perfect match for little Johnny and in August of 2017, when Johnny was just 18 months old, Jamie’s kidney became Johnny’s.
She says donating her kidney hasn’t slowed her down at all. “It isn’t life-altering. I’m living well with one and I can do everything I did before. There are so many people in need, it’s a great thing to share your spare. You can live well with one, why not bless someone with the gift of life?”
Jamie has always been a runner – she ran track in high school and kept it up, even after both of her children were born. Post-transplant, she says she wanted her runs to means something. “I was already registered for the Illinois Half Marathon and I knew you could raise awareness and funds while running so I joined Team Kidney.”
Things with Sawyer can still be tough. Just this week, his doctors made the decision to re-catheterize him. It will be a struggle, especially now that he’s 4, but it’s a decision that will help his little body prolong his need for dialysis.
Jamie offers this advice to other parents of kidney kids, “You are not alone. There’s a support system out there. It can be overwhelming and hard to see your child go through painful experiences but keep fighting. Keep looking for answers. Keep pressing on.”
You can cheer Jamie Dawes on during the Illinois Half Marathon and by considering living donation. Click here for more information.