A selfless mother has turned down a life-saving kidney donation from her husband so it can be given to their two-year-old daughter as she battles the same rare genetic disease.
Bec Vallee, 31, from Ipswich, in Queensland, was diagnosed with kidney disease at age 12, before her mother donated one of her organs five years later, saving her life.
But the nurse’s body begins to reject the gifted organ, forcing her to undergo kidney dialysis for six hours at a time, three days a week.
Husband Ryan had planned to donate one of his kidneys until the couple discovered that their daughter Ambrosia, two, was suffering from the same condition as her mother and will one day need a transplant.
Because they are reserving the donation for their daughter, Ms. Vallee is now back on a transplant waiting list in the hopes that a kidney will become available soon.
Bec Vallee, 31, has turned down her husband Ryan’s kidney donation so that it can instead be given to their daughter Ambrosia as she battles the same rare genetic disease (pictured together)
“I am very lucky in many ways, but living with kidney failure is far from normal,” Ms Vallee told the Daily Mail Australia.
“My kidney function is below five percent and going on dialysis means a daily battle with fatigue, nausea, bone and heart problems. The list goes on.’
Kidney disease occurs when the vital organ — which filters waste from the body — stops functioning, leading to a build-up of waste.
Sufferers can experience a host of serious health consequences as a result, including fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, weak bones, anemia and nerve damage.
After receiving the transplant at 17, Ms. Vallee, who had spent years in and out of the hospital and on dialysis, felt as “almost normal” as she’d ever experienced, which allowed her to travel and finish college.
‘It was a feeling of well-being and energy – no more taking drugs and being monitored. It was freedom, it was the greatest gift I could have asked for,” she said.
Ms. Vallee, a nurse educator for West Moreton Health, was inspired to start a healthcare career helping others after her own hospital experiences as a teenager.
The nurse from Ipswich was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was 12, forcing her in and out of hospital as a teenager
Ms Vallee said she didn’t realize how debilitating her kidney disease was until she got a transplant at 17 and was able to function ‘normally’
But a few years later, as the Vallees prepared to start a family of their own, the couple suffered the devastating blow that their child would one day face the same health problems as her mother.
A prenatal scan revealed that their daughter had abnormal kidney development. It was later confirmed to be caused by the same rare genetic condition.
“We were totally shocked and overwhelmed. We weren’t sure how to proceed, it felt like a daunting diagnosis,” said Ms. Vallee.
“It was a life-changing moment. We were determined that she would live a full and meaningful life knowing that every day is a gift.”
The couple decided that the donation would be kept for their little girl, who will one day need a transplant.
Mrs. Vallee said it was immediate.
“Every parent would sacrifice and lay down their life and everything necessary for their child,” said Ms. Vallee.
‘As a parent, you want your child to have a good and happy life.
“My life is filled with a lot of positive things, and we knew hers would be too. We just have to keep looking at the positive things and keep looking forward.’
Ms. Vallee is now on a waiting list for kidneys as the couple hopes that one day Ryan can donate one of his own to their daughter
It is hoped that when the time comes, Ryan will be a suitable match and that Ambrosia can receive the donation early to prevent the health effects associated with the disease from developing in later stages.
Meanwhile, Ms. Vallee has been on sick leave for a month, battling constant exhaustion while under treatment.
Despite battling the disease for most of her life, the mother of one says she is extremely lucky to still be able to perform mundane tasks and be an active parent.
‘Kidney failure is a very complex problem – it is life-threatening. There are many that have consequences that I don’t,’ she said.
“I’m very lucky in many ways that I don’t have worse problems that I deal with every day.”
Ms. Vallee shares her story for DonateLife week to raise awareness about the life-changing gift of organ donation.
About 1,800 Australians are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and another 12,000 are on dialysis – some of which would benefit greatly from a kidney.
While seven million Australians have signed up to become organ donors, only a handful of Australians get the chance, and only two percent of people who die in hospital can donate.
Ms Vallee has taken time off from work as she undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week but says she is ‘very lucky’ her illness is not yet as severe as other patients
This year’s campaign aims to bust myths about organ donation – such as people who think they are ineligible due to age or lifestyle factors such as drinking and smoking – to encourage Australians to register.
Organs that can be donated include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and pancreas, while other body tissues, such as the skin, can be given to burn patients, or corneas can be donated to improve vision. to recover.
Because donations are exceedingly rare, Ms. Vallee said having as many people as possible increases the chances that those in need can receive a life-changing transplant.
“It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. If someone is able to donate, they have to die in a way that preserves their organs, so there’s a select few, just 2 percent, who can donate,” she said.
“And transplants are not a cure. While they provide years of a wonderful life, they will diminish, or you may need dialysis or another transplant to stay alive.
“So it’s very important that people sign up and register to give families the gift of life.”
WHAT IS KIDNEY DISEASE?
Kidney disease is the loss of normal kidney function over time and can be acute or chronic
The disease occurs when the kidneys, which work to purify blood and filter waste from the urine, stop functioning as they should.
This leads to waste products gradually building up in the body, which can have devastating health effects
About 1.7 million Australians are affected by kidney disease every year
In ‘acute kidney disease’, the kidneys restore normal function within three months, while ‘chronic kidney disease’, the most common form of the disease, occurs when there is a loss of healthy kidney disease for more than three months
Chronic kidney disease has five stages – from mild to severe – with kidney failure occurring in the later stages
There are many different causes of kidney disease, including diabetes, immune disorders, congenital disorders, or genetic disorders, such as polycystic kidney disease
Kidney disease is irreversible but can be treated if detected early, with early stage interventions including minimizing alcohol, eating healthy and being active, and medication
Later-stage treatment options include kidney transplants, renal replacement therapy, also known as renal dialysis, or conservative treatment and supportive care
Source: Kidney Health Australia