“I don’t think about it. I don’t think of me. I’m nervous about taking her kidneys out, not mine.”
— Kristen Baker about her daughter Eloise’s upcoming surgery
In February, 2-year-old Eloise Baker will have both of her kidneys removed in preparation for her upcoming kidney transplant. The removal process will increase her protein levels before the transplant — which can take four to six weeks to rise.
If all goes as scheduled, Eloise will receive her mother Kristen’s kidney in April.
“I don’t think about it. I don’t think of me. I’m nervous about taking her kidneys out, not mine,” admits Kristen. “I pray every day that everything will be a go.”
The Bakers never thought they would be able to have children on their own.
At the age of 21, Eloise’s dad Nick battled testicular cancer. They were told the odds were against them to conceive naturally, and they began working on alternative options to have a family, Much to their surprise, six years after beating cancer they found out they were expecting.
On December 17, 2012, Eloise was born.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we’re parents,’” says Kristen. “After all we had been through, never thinking we could conceive on our own, and now we were parents. It’s crazy how things happen.”
At six months old, doctors discovered Eloise was losing protein and referred her to a specialist in Davis, Calif.
“Initially doctors thought Eloise had cysts in her kidneys, but more tests revealed she had nephrotic syndrome (a disorder that damages the kidneys causing too much protein to release into her urine),” says Kristen.
They knew what that diagnosis meant.
“I asked right away if I could donate my kidney to Eloise,” says Kristen. “I knew Nick wouldn’t be able to, given his health history. I even asked my mom, ‘If I can’t, will you?’”
A couple weeks later, the living donor process began with blood tests (to determine if she was a match), kidney function, tissue tests, and plenty of paperwork. Eloise was also put on a donor waiting list as part of the process.
“I remember the day I got the call. My mom and I were driving back from Davis to Reno and it was the doctor. The phone was cutting out, but I was able to hear that I was a match to be her donor,” Kristen says.
Since transplants are not performed in Reno, the Bakers have had to travel to Davis often.
Renown has been able to assist the family with some travel expenses through the Renown Health Patient Assistance Fund, and Kristen also works closely with Lisa May, a social worker at Renown Children’s Hospital, to be sure they’re getting financial help where they can.
“There are often unpredictable financial burdens of gas, lodging and food during the hospitalization,” Lisa says. “Also, lost wages during that time can be overwhelming. Fortunately, this assistance can help lessen some of the burden for the Baker family.”
Eloise gets blood work done every couple of weeks at Children’s Specialty Care at Renown Children’s Hospital to check her kidney function and there are still more tests for both Eloise and Kristen to undergo.
“Eloise loves seeing a friendly face,” says Kristen. “It’s so nice to be able to get these tests done here in Reno. Renown has experience doing blood work with children.”
To help children like Eloise and the Baker family, tune in to Alice 96.5 Jan. 22 to 23 for the live “36 Hours for Kids” Radiothon. For more information, visit Alice965.com.