“We do what we can to give back to those who have given to us.” –Dave Beattie, Jackson’s dad
Jackson’s kidneys lasted him 20 months—which was 20 months past their expiration date.
Jackson developed posterior urethra valves in utero, which meant his bladder couldn’t empty out. During his nine months of development, urine backed up in his body and damaged his kidneys. His parents welcomed him into the world—and quickly started the process to get him a kidney transplant.
“We were very fortunate that Jackson’s cousin, Brett, took time over his summer break from Iowa State University to donate one of his kidneys to Jackson,” said Jackson’s dad, Dave. “He had enough time to recover before going back to school.”
Complications can arise when an adult donates an organ to an infant, though. Jackson’s cousin was 20 years old and 6’2” tall. “It was a rather large kidney,” said Dave.
Jackson was in the hospital for more than three weeks, his transplant complicated by several factors—including the size of his new kidney. He needed several blood transfusions, and a second surgery after he developed an infection.
Then, after returning home and starting down the road to recovery, Jackson began a new battle: his body was destroying its own platelets—a condition called immune thrombocytopenia, or ITP. He began to bruise easily and lose energy. Jackson needed regular trips to Essentia–St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital for platelet transfusions.
“We’ve had ups and downs,” Dave said. “Those were rough days. It’s hard to keep a four-year-old still, especially one who’s been stuck with needles so many times in his life.”
Today, Jackson is stable. Though he takes immunosuppressants to prevent his body from rejecting his transplanted kidney, that doesn’t stop him from playing soccer and baseball. And his parents are giving back to the community that helped their family make it this far.
“I’m coordinating a blood drive at work later this year,” Dave said. “Blood donation is a simple thing to do to help someone in need. Any of your loved ones could need blood at any point, and you don't realize how important blood donation is until you or someone you know is in need.”
Read Jackson's story on the KBJR-6 website here.