Toddler still waiting for dual transplants

March 17, 2010 6:00:13 PM PDT
ABC7 first introduced viewers to 4-year-old Aaron Tanner several months ago. Aaron, who is from Brentwood, desperately needs two new kidneys and a heart transplant. He is waiting for organs to become available, but in the meantime, he is home with his family for the first time in many months.

For nine months, Aaron and his mom Elizabeth lived in or near hospitals in San Francisco and Los Angeles waiting for the double transplant that will save Aaron's life.

"Aaron's in heart failure and kidney failure," Elizabeth said. "He's got a lot of strength, God's watching over him, but he's really a sick little boy on the inside and he needs his heart and a kidney to live."

Now, Aaron travels to San Francisco for three hours of kidney dialysis every other day. He takes 10-12 medications and a Spiderman backpack carries his intravenous fluids.

Aaron had his first of three open heart surgeries 10 days after he was born. Six weeks later, his 4-year-old brother Ethan died from an undiagnosed heart condition, different from Aaron's.

"We had no idea that he had this, so we couldn't fight for his life ahead of time," Elizabeth said. "He was taken from us suddenly."

Besides Aaron's fragile condition, the Tanners must also deal with Blue Cross health insurance that is maxed out and over $1 million in unpaid medical bills while trying to keep Bank of America from foreclosing on their home.

"There is no insurance that is going to pay for you forever," Elizabeth said. "If you have a terminal illness or any type of sickness that requires long term care you are financially devastated."

It is enough to make any family crack, but right now Aaron's is focused on just one thing -- making sure their little boy gets the organs he needs.

"This is a really hard decision that parents would have to make at that horrible time if their child has passed away, but they would have to know that their child would live on in a way and that it's the greatest gift that you can give," Elizabeth said.


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