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Abby wins the kidney lottery

California organ a ‘one in a million’ match; transplant goes off without a hitch

Published: Monday, July 1, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, July 1, 2013 11:13 p.m. CST
Caption
(Kimberly Watley/Special to SVM)
Dina Frye curls up on the couch with her daughter, Abby. It has been a about 2 weeks since the 23-year-old Dixon woman's kidney transplant, and by all accounts, the organ is functioning perfectly.

DIXON – Her friends and family call her Wonder Woman. It’s a nickname Abby Frye was given after repeatedly defying the odds that were stacked up against her since she was a baby.

It has been a about 2 weeks since the 23- year-old Dixon woman’s kidney transplant, and again, she has blown her doctors away. 

At 2 a.m., June 19, she was being prepped for surgery. By the afternoon of June 22, she was home recuperating.

The organ came all the way from California. Abby jokes that it, like she, is a diva. 

“It took forever to get here, but once she was finally here, she got down to work,” Abby said. 

The kidney is functioning well, and her creatine level is like that of someone who never has been sick – which is amazing, considering this week marks the 22nd anniversary since she developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which caused her own kidneys to fail. 

This wasn’t Abby’s first transplant. Fifteen years ago, nearly to the day, she received one from her dad, Lewie’s, on her left side. This one went in on her right side.

The first translpant began failing in October 2011, and she had been getting sicker and sicker. She was on dialysis five times a week, a process that can take up to 4 hours.

Now, Abby is thrilled to “kick Wally [the name she gave her dialysis machine] out of the house for good.”

Her mother, Dina, 49, also is thrilled to no longer need to stick Abby with needles or plan their entire day around her dialysis.

Many potential donors were tested this time. but none were a good enough, except maybe Dina, who finally was cleared by her cardiologist and intended to donate.

Abby “has this one antigen that no one else seems to have,” Dina said. “If I had that, I’d be more than a good match. A person has to be the best possible match and healthy enough to donate, otherwise she could reject it.”

Then on June 17, Abby got a call: A kidney was available. And not just a “good enough” organ.

“It was the transplant office talking about ‘We have a kidney! It’s a perfect, perfect match!’ and I was like, ‘I know, but she’s not a perfect, perfect match, she’s a good match.’

“But they weren’t talking about my mom.”

The surgeon told her it was like winning the kidney lottery. It is a “one in a million, zero mismatch organ.” 

In the hospital, waiting for surgery to begin, made everyone a little stir-crazy, so Lewie, whose leg was amputated after a motorcycle accident last year, gave Abby and her friends something to entertain themselves with.

He took off his prosthetic leg and handed it to Abby’s friends. 

“Danny [Theobald] held it and Nicole [Shaffer] painted the toenails. We had to do something to pass the time and have some sort of fun,” Abby said with a laugh. 

“She is amazing,” Lewie said, looking at Abby with a broad smile.”She really is Wonder Woman.” 

Abby underwent five chemotherapy treatments after the transplant, to knock out the T-cells that push foreign antibodies out of her immune system. 

The incision site, about 15 inches long, is a “little sore,” she said, adding with a smile that she feels “pretty good, considering.” 

Looking forward to a life without dialysis, Abby said she hopes to share the message of the importance of organ donation. 

“It’s good that you sign your license, but you have to tell your family,” Abby said.

The donor, a 27-year-old from California, died, Abby said.

“I am sorry they have had to lose a loved one, but they have saved my life.”

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