Santa Barbara residents Jamie and Andrew Nash would do anything to help their young son, Hudson — including raising money to fly an organ donor to Los Angeles from North Carolina to provide a vital kidney.
Hudson will be 2 years old in August, but he has suffered from a condition known as chronic kidney disease since before he was born. Hudson was scheduled for a kidney transplant on April 21, but the operation was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the surgery is scheduled for July 7.
“He doesn’t feel well,” Jamie Nash told Noozhawk. “We have been living day-to-day, just trying to make it through without being on dialysis.”
The Nashes have considered several options, including planes, trains and automobiles, but doctors told them that a private plane with one or no stops — so no one has to get on or off the aircraft — is the best way to get the donor, a distant cousin of Hudson’s, to the hospital without too much exposure or risk.
In 2018, the family put out a Christmas letter asking for potential donors.
“She is amazing,” Nash said of the donor.
Hudson was born with significant kidney damage after experiencing a blockage to his urethra while he was developing in utero. He spent two months in the neonatal intensive-care unit, and his short life has been full of routine shots, medicine, blood draws and doctor visits.
He must take seven medicines, three times a day; gets daily shots; and undergoes monthly blood draws. Even after his transplant this summer, he will need another in about 15 to 20 years.
Last July, the family visited Washington, D.C., where they met with President Donald Trump. While there, he signed an executive order implementing sweeping reforms intended to streamline treatment and transplantation, including increasing the supply of donated kidneys and shifting most patients now on expensive clinic-based dialysis to more cost-effective home care.
Normally, Nash said, the donor would fly on a commercial flight, but that is not possible because of the coronavirus. Doctors would not allow the procedure to go through if the donor is exposed.
“We do not have the means to charter a private plane, but we have been generously granted the use of a plane and pilots at operational cost,” the Nash family said in a statement.
Nash said her family’s ordeal has been a roller coaster, but she’s grateful for all the support.
“You have to live day-by-day,” she said. “You never know what the next day is going to present to you. You can’t plan, you can’t think ahead. You have to focus on day by day.
“We feel very blessed that he can be taken care of. We have had a lot of people reach out.”
The family has raised about $51,000 of its $150,000 goal. The money will cover donor transportation and costs while she is in California for three weeks, the Nash family’s stay for two months in Los Angeles, post-transplant, plus a lifetime of transportation costs for Hudson, and additional transplants that will be needed.