Paterson, New Jersey, Boy Bounces Back After Living-Donor Transplant

Jordan Vasquez

May 11, 2022

At age 12, Jordan Vasquez was significantly smaller than many kids his age. But it wasn’t until a routine checkup that his family found out why: kidney damage so severe the sixth grader would require a transplant.

Jordan was born with posterior urethral valves (PUV), blockages in the tube near the bladder carrying urine from the body. But the uncommon condition hadn’t seemed to seriously affect the Paterson, New Jersey resident, until blood tests in 2020 showed his kidneys were failing after years of slow and silent damage from backed-up urine. 

“Pressure was building in his kidneys all that time,” Jordan’s father, Andrew, says. “He was always active and playful. I saw no signs that something was wrong.”

PUV is an example of congenital anomalies of the kidneys and urinary tract, which accounts for about half of pediatric end-stage kidney failure, says Namrata Jain, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Kidney Transplant at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.

After turning to the Children’s Hospital for his son’s care, Andrew could finally breathe with relief. Jordan was able to get to his kidney transplant without the need for dialysis. Pediatric kidney specialists performed a living donor transplant in August 2021 and meticulously laid out plans to keep the video game-loving boy’s new organ healthy for decades to come.

Successful Surgery 

“From the beginning, I could tell Jordan’s family surrounded him with love,” Dr. Jain says. That’s especially evident in Jordan’s donor: With a different blood type than his son, Andrew couldn’t be the donor, but Jordan’s half-sister’s grandmother proved to be a match and stepped up to the plate.

“Living donor transplants have the best long-term potential for both patients and are really the best treatment option for everyone, especially children,” says Michael Goldstein, M.D., director of the Division of Organ Transplantation at Hackensack. “With a living donor, you can avoid getting sicker from kidney failure and receive a better-functioning kidney that will last longer than deceased-donor kidneys.”

The three-hour surgery went perfectly, with Jordan’s new kidney working immediately afterward. While sore, the boy was able to go home within several days. “I felt the weight of all my worries come off my chest,” Andrew recalls. “I’m grateful to the doctors for the love, support and attention they gave my son.”

On Track for a Full Recovery

While he quickly bounced back, the health crisis was rough on not only Jordan, but his entire family. Andrew needed to take extended time off from his truck driver job and Jordan had to adjust to daily medications to prevent rejection of his new kidney. Regular checkups of Jordan’s kidney function reassure his family he’s on track for a full recovery.

Home-schooling until the next academic year, the young sports enthusiast has made important strides in the months after his transplant, growing rapidly and learning more easily than he had before. “Little by little, he’s catching up,” Andrew says. “Hopefully in another year or so, he’ll also be able to play any sport he would like.”

Because transplanted organs have a limited lifespan, Jordan will likely require another kidney, perhaps decades from now. “A transplant is a treatment, not a cure,” Dr. Jain says. “But taking care of your transplanted organ can increase its longevity.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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