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18-month-old in need of kidney transplant recovers after dad's kidney is a match

Posted at 8:26 PM, Jan 23, 2023

HAMPTON, Va. — An 18-month-old in Hampton has been fighting for his life before having learned to walk. Parents of Cooper Pfaff say he was born with end-stage renal disease, resulting in him needing a kidney.

Less than a month ago the infant underwent his operation, his donor being his dad.

Born with kidney disease, the Pfaffs say their baby was on dialysis every night starting at 10 days old.

Parents Steven and Kasey Pfaff say they searched for an adult-sized kidney. After the first story with the family aired back in October, more than 50 people reached out hoping to be a match. Kasey Pfaff says her prayers were answered and one was found under her own roof.

"We always say that I brought him into this world and Stephen kept him in it,"

Stephen says he and his wife had hoped for a live donor since that would mean a longer life and fewer complications for their baby boy. Since Cooper's operation on December 27, Kasey and Stephen say it's been like getting to meet their child all over again.

"Watching him walk and laugh and have so much more personality than he did has been fantastic," says Stephen.

"And it's been like the child he always has meant to be it's insane what a working organ can do for someone. The good energy, the good laughs, the proper pee production. All of those things are a wonderful change for us and I don't think that most people can really grasp how it felt for us unless they're going through what we went through," adds Kasey.

The family says there's a lot more to organ donation than meets the eye and that many people 18 and older can donate including military members.

Dad Stephen Pfaff, who's in the Airforce, said there's a rule or two though. For example, you cannot join the military with just one kidney.

"You can continue to serve as a donor, you just have to make sure your paperwork is filled out correctly," says Pfaff.

Cooper may have gotten through the hurdle of needing a kidney, but he's still got some upcoming surgeries and a new nightly routine.

"He's still on an eight-hour feed every night. They're called hydration feeds and he's going to need to be on this for at least two to three years and that's just to keep his kidney hydrated at night," adds Kasey.

Still, the family says this new routine beats being on dialysis and in the end, this experience has created a bond in their home and outside of it.

"It sounds weird to say we are blessed to have a kid who has kidney issues but we're finding so many other families and we know we are going to help so many of them find those kidneys and start their own journey."

If you would like to donate to a child like Cooper, details can be found by clicking the link here.