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Joliet girl with rare condition finally receives new kidney

JOLIET, Ill. - A Joliet teenager received the gift of life, one year after being diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that left her with end-stage kidney disease.

Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Reyes learned last Wednesday that doctors found an organ donor match.

"Until the organ is literally in the surgeon's hand, there's no definite yes because it could arrive and there could have been something wrong," said Elizabeth's mom, Stacey.

The transplant was a success and Elizabeth is expected to be released from the hospital this weekend.

In August, Elizabeth was experiencing extreme lethargy. She developed a limp and her eyes were literally bulging out of her head, according to her mom.

At first, doctors thought it was a lack of exercise due to at-home learning and the pandemic. But a blood test showed something much different. Elizabeth was rush to Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. She was diagnosed with nephronophthisis, a condition that causes fibrosis of the kidneys.

Her rare Type O blood made finding a kidney donor even more difficult.

Last week, the family received word a deceased donor kidney was a match.

"I hope they know just how much they've changed Elizabeth's life and our lives too, and I can't imagine how many other families they've also changed," said Stacey.

She says they hope to meet the donor's family one day to tell them in-person how thankful they are.

"A family is suffering the loss of their 19-year-old son or grandson or nephew and we're celebrating because our daughter is basically starting her new life right now thanks to him," said Stacey.

Elizabeth is hoping to be released from the hospital this weekend. She'll have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life. She's looking forward to taking a vacation wiht her family, after enduring three hours of dialysis, three times a week for nearly a year.

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