N.C. Mom Donates Life-Saving Kidney to Toddler Across the Country: 'Our Angel Sent from Above'
"For her to do this for Hudson, it's amazing. It's the most selfless thing someone can do for another human," Jamie Nash said of Paige Flotkoetter's kidney donation
A North Carolina mother is being praised as "an angel" after she selflessly donated her kidney to a child in need who lives across the country.
Paige Flotkoetter said she didn't think twice about potentially undergoing a kidney transplant after learning in December that Hudson Nash, a 23-month-old toddler from California, would need a new organ in order to survive, CBS affiliate WFMY reports.
"People say, 'Why do you do it?' and I say, 'I would want someone to step up for my child,'" the Huntersville mom of two told the outlet.
Flotkoetter ultimately got that opportunity on Tuesday when she and Hudson underwent a successful kidney transplant surgery together at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, giving the toddler a second chance at life.
"We still have a long road to recovery, but we are celebrating this huge milestone tonight," Hudson's mom, Jamie Nash, wrote on the "A Kidney for Hudson" Facebook page. "The biggest thank you to Hudson’s donor @paigef19! You will forever be our angel sent from above. We love you so very much."
From the time Hudson was born on August 7, 2018, he's been in and out of the hospital, receiving extensive treatments for his chronic kidney disease, according to his page on Children's Organ Transplant Association.
The condition, which Hudson's parents said he will live with for his entire life, first developed when he was in utero after there was a blockage to his urethra.
Because both of his kidneys had suffered "significant" and "irreversible" damage from the blockage, doctors told Hudson's parents that the organs were too weak to support the rest of his body and he would require a kidney transplant before his second birthday, as well as one or more later in life, the page stated.
"He spent the first two months of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit," Jamie explained to WFMY. "Doctors were not sure if he was going to make it because he had such low usage of his kidneys."
As he got older, Hudson got stronger and was discharged from the hospital, but his kidneys remained weak. Though he didn't require dialysis, doctors told Jamie her son would definitely need a transplant.
"You never think something like this will happen to you and when it does, it's a huge punch to the gut," Jamie told WFMY, adding that Hudson was put on a donor list while she and her family began searching for a match.
Realizing that social media could "spread the news the fastest", Jamie started the Facebook page in search of a donor and also sent out letters around the holidays in December, according to the outlet.
As it turns out, the letters proved to be the most effective, as one ended up in the mailbox of Flotkoetter, whose husband is a distant cousin of the Nash family.
"In December, we got a Christmas card and they were asking for people to be donors," Flotkoetter recalled to WFMY. "I thought the odds of it were probably slim-to-none since I wasn't even related."
But her preconceived ideas were completely dismissed after she underwent some tests and blood work. The results eventually came back, proving that Flotkoetter was a perfect match for Hudson.
"I could barely get the words out. I was tearing up and I was like, 'We’re a match, we can do this," Flotkoetter shared with the outlet, while Jamie added that she "immediately teared up and started crying" after hearing the news.
The families originally set the transplant date for April 21, according to Hudson's Children's Organ Transplant Association page, but their joy and anticipation soon turned to uncertainty when the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to their plans.
"Due to COVID-19, all transplants were called off as they are considered 'elective' surgeries," the Nash family wrote on the page, later disclosing that things had changed and doctors said the surgery could be performed on July 7.
Still, there were some challenges in front of Flotkoetter, who had to find a way to get to Los Angeles without risking her health amid the pandemic.
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After considering "every option," including organizations that fly for medical needs, renting an RV, a train, and a private plane, Flotkoetter announced on Facebook on June 18 that "a wonderful soul donated their NetJet hours" to fly her and her husband Brent to California.
On June 30, Flotkoetter and her husband finally arrived in Los Angeles. Over the next few days, the North Carolina mom underwent several tests, including one for COVID-19, before finally getting the procedure done this Tuesday.
As Flotkoetter and Hudson continue to recover in separate areas of the hospital, Jamie said she can't help but feel immense gratitude for her son's second chance at life and for his new hero.
"Throughout this whole process, I've been so grateful for [Flotkoetter]," Jamie told WFMY. "For her to do this for Hudson, it's amazing. It's the most selfless thing someone can do for another human."
"[Hudson has] really the defied the odds and beat the odds," she added. "As long as he's healthy and happy, that's all the things that I need."