Faith O’Brien, 3, suffers from hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause kidneys to stop working. Her father, John O’Brien, has come to his daughter’s rescue by donating a kidney.
Three-year-old Faith O’Brien of Plympton sat in her bed in the Children’s Hospital on Tuesday wearing a medical gown covered in drawings of clowns.
Her father, John O’Brien, clutched the back of her head and kissed her cheek. He was about to give her one of his kidneys.
Faith contracted a bad case of pneumonia that contaminated her bloodstream when she was a baby.
She was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause kidneys to stop working, especially in young children.
When doctors told John O’Brien and his wife, Ellen, last year that Faith needed a kidney transplant, the two decided one of them would be the donor because immediate family members are typically the best matches.
“Whoever was the more compatible person was going to give her the kidney, but we came up 50-50,” said John O’Brien, who owns a contracting company.
He ended up donating the kidney, and his wife volunteered to care for both.
As of Thursday afternoon, Faith was staying in a Children’s Hospital room down the hall from her father’s. Both were in stable condition.
“Children’s has really been outstanding with their guidance and support,” John O’Brien said. “It’s amazing what they can do today. It’s a great hospital with great people.”
Faith’s brother Brosnan, 6, is happy his sister is healthy but has told his father he will miss the truck that delivered Faith’s dialysis supplies.
“He anxiously awaits the arrival of the dialysis truck,” John O’Brien said. “He helps us carry the stuff upstairs and helps his mommy set it up. He’s very hands on.”
Young siblings who are close in age do not always get along, but John O’Brien said Brosnan has been very kind to Faith.
“He’s grown to appreciate his sister more, it’s given him a different outlook,” he said.
Patriot Ledger writer Gal Tziperman Lotan may be reached at email@example.com.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
- Also known as Hamburger Disease, hemolytic uremic syndrome is usually contracted after acute food-borne illness.
- Most cases are caused when a certain strain of E. coli, O157:H7, enters the bloodstream and infects it.
- Symptoms include diarrhea, anemia, and a low platelet count. The disease can lead to kidney failure.
- Preventative measures include thoroughly cooking meat, washing fruits and vegetables before eating them and washing hands regularly, especially after changing a child's diaper or cleaning a toilet.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health