WILSON – Jasiah Macon can’t sit still.
He toddles from chair to chair, person to person, before scooting out the door and down the clinic hall, throwing a green ball as he runs. It’s almost as if he’s making up for lost time. Maybe he is.
On Dec. 20, the 2-year-old Wilson boy became the youngest kidney transplant patient at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. His mother, Jessica Vick, was the donor.
Dr. Guillermo Hidalgo said Jasiah was his first severe renal kidney patient at ECU Pediatric Nephrology. Before pediatric nephrology services were expanded at Vidant, parents in eastern North Carolina had to take their children to Duke University Medical Center or UNC Hospitals for kidney care. If his mother hadn’t spoken up, that’s where Jasiah would have gone, too.
Jasiah was just 2 weeks old when he first got sick. His mother couldn’t wake him up one day; neither could paramedics who picked him up in an ambulance or emergency room staff at Wilson Medical Center. He was very pale, Vick said, and his stomach was caved in and his chest was protruding.
“I thought my baby was dying.”
A helicopter from UNC came to get the newborn, but Vick asked if they could go to Vidant instead. She knew travel back and forth to Chapel Hill would be a hardship. So instead of taking him to UNC, the helicopter headed east to Greenville.
Jasiah had problems, including bladder outlet obstruction and severely decreased kidney function.
It was a lot to take in, said Vick, who was afraid she had done something to make the infant sick.
“I cried a long time. It was the scariest moment in my life.”
Jasiah was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit and stayed in the hospital for three months. During that time, he had several surgeries, and a feeding tube was inserted because he had stopped eating.
He was started on peritoneal dialysis at home when he was around 1 year old. Vick and Jasiah’s dad, Del Macon, were both trained on how to do it. Vick said it’s not hard to hook it up, but it’s a big responsibility.
From age 1 to 2, there were many problems and infections, Hidalgo recalls. Hidalgo told Vick and Macon from the beginning that the process would be a marathon, not a sprint.
Jasiah was hospitalized 10 to 15 times and was getting sicker and sicker.
A transplant from a living donor was the best option. The search starts with the biological parents, Hidalgo said. Eighty percent of the time, the mom will be the donor, and that was the case with Jasiah, who turns 3 in June.
Vick had her fair share of steps to take to be a donor including physicals, dental care and CT scans.
“She managed to stay on task,” Hidalgo said.
She also never doubted her decision to be the donor.
“It’s for my son,” she said. “I knew it would make him a whole lot better.”
But she still was nervous about surgery for both her and son. It also bothered her that she wouldn’t be able to see Jasiah immediately after surgery.
The surgeries — by Dr. Robert Harland and Dr. Claire Morgan — went as planned. Jasiah was at an advantage because he had a living donor.
The organ came out warm from one body and went in warm to another body, Hidalgo said.
The first three months after transplant can be bumpy, Hildalgo said. Then the one-year mark is critical.
“If he clears that, he has an excellent prognosis.”
Hidalgo picked up Jasiah Tuesday and smiled back at the grinning toddler.
“He’s as close to a miracle as you can get,” he said.
Post-transplant, Jasiah acts like a different child, Vick said.
At doctor visits before the transplant, he was quiet and reserved and usually sat in his mama’s lap or was close by at least. On Tuesday morning, Macon had a job keeping track of Jasiah, who was darting in and out of the exam room and up and down the halls. He has a lot more energy.
Children rebound quickly, Hidalgo said, and are resilient.
Vick, who has recovered from her surgery, has seen a difference in other ways. Jasiah has healthier coloring, she said, is more talkative and plays more.
She’s hoping he starts to eat more now, too. He’s had a feeding tube since he was a newborn. He will swallow juice, but nothing else. Vick said he gags when he tries to swallow food.
The family, including Vick’s daughter, have been back in Wilson since Friday. They stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville before that.
Vick is thankful they chose Vidant for many reasons and said everyone has been good to them, even providing Christmas gifts for her children.
“We’ve had a lot of help and support down here,” she said.