Jerusalem teen stuck in MN, waiting for lifesaving kidney transplant

1:32 PM, May 11, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn - A 15 year old girl from Jerusalem came all the way to Minnesota for her second kidney transplant, but once in Minnesota, the journey to save her life became even more uncertain.

The living donor the family brought with them from Israel is no longer a suitable match, and now they are stranded in our state, with a dire need, but no donor.

Sara Zalaznik has a rare kidney disease that requires a living donor, and few people are a match in Israel. She had her first kidney transplant in the United States at the age of three, but now her kidney is failing again.

"It's very hard, for her problem, all doctors that I ask tell me come to here," said Dassi Zalaznik, her mother.

After an exhaustive search, it seemed the family's prayers had been answered. A stranger came forward and last week, flew to Minnesota with the family to donate his kidney to Sara.

"The hospital prepared her for the transplant everything looked like it was going smooth and as planned so the excitement was at a peak. Suddenly they broke the news to her that isn't not compatible and there will be no transplant," said Shaindy Mendelbaum, who translated from the family's native language of Hebrew.

 Now Dassi Zalaznik says she is afraid. She has five other children back home and is torn whether to stay in Minnesota in hopes of receiving lifesaving care, or return to Israel where chances of finding a donor are bleak.

Sara Zalaznik says her doctors believe she is in an urgent window of need. They do not want to start dialysis because it would weaken her body and make it more difficult to accept a new kidney. She is also is trying to grasp the reality of her situation because she's long hidden her illness from her friends.

"So her mother respected her desire that no one should know about this big secret of hers because everyone is going to feel bad for her, she didn't want any pity, so she tried so hard and fought it when you see her she is a regular teenager," said Mendelbaum.

Sara agrees she is just normal teenager asking someone in this country to offer the gift of time so she can grow up and go home.

"It's going to help, it's going to save my life," she said.

The family says ideally a donor would be a healthy man or woman ages 18 to 40, with no kidney, lung or chronic diseases, with blood types A or O.

The University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital along with the University of Minnesota Medical Center just performed its 8000th kidney transplant.  The U of M has offered guidelines if people decide they want to be evaluated for a kidney donation.


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