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Alyssa Welch

A Story of Hope and Survival

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 Alyssa flanked by mother Kim and older sister
Amanda, Kim, Alyssa.jpg

My name is Kim Welch, and my daughter Alyssa’s story is one of hope and survival. She was born 15 years ago with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). ARPKD causes severe damage to both your kidney and liver. Alyssa was two and a half years old when she had her first kidney transplant.

Ten days after her successful kidney transplant, unrelated to her congenital disease, Alyssa was diagnosed with eye cancer. Her left eye was surgically removed and replaced with an artificial one. Time marched on and so did Alyssa’s strong will and positive attitude.

Last year around Alyssa’s 14th birthday we learned she needed two transplants — a kidney and a liver. We decided on University of California, San Francisco because each transplant candidate is carefully evaluated by a team that includes transplant surgeons, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, hepatologists, infectious disease specialists, and social workers. Because of this team approach, I knew UCSF was the place for us.

Doctors placed Alyssa on the transplant list while we made routine trips three times a week to UCSF from Modesto, California for dialysis treatments. Before going on dialysis Alyssa was taking 45 pills each day, and dialysis decreased the pills to 21 per day but she continued to have symptoms of anemia, fatigue, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, making her vulnerable to illnesses that could delay the transplants.

Alyssa was not a candidate for living donor transplantation because of the need for two organs from two different donors; it was considered too risky. Alyssa’s magic day arrived January 13, 2013. Dr. John Roberts, Chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery at UCSF called to let us know we had a potential match. My older daughter Amanda had a friend of a friend who’d passed away in a car accident. The parents had heard about Alyssa’s plight and wanted to help. It turned out their child was a match. Alyssa underwent her double transplant January 15, 2013.The entire experience has been life-changing.

We’ve been through the system for almost 16 years and without question our experience at UCSF stands out. From the time we walked in the front door to the time we left – everything went smoothly. We were confident in the ability of the team including the faculty, nurses and staff. It takes a village to perform something like this and everyone played their part communicating with one another efficiently and effectively.

Dr. Roberts had this to say:

“Alyssa’s story is one of many patient stories here at UCSF. Transplantation is such a young field, but we’ve come so far in such a short period of time. We’re now able to offer patients a variety of options that have never existed before. We strive to offer the safest, most compassionate and most effective care to our patients. We are incredibly grateful to have been a part of Alyssa’s story and success."

Again, I am so grateful for the wonderful care that my daughter received at UCSF. She is living proof that the gift of life is possible through transplantation.

Kimberly Welch

Tags: Kidney TransplantPolycystic Kidney Disease
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