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Child home after undergoing double-kidney transplant

5-year-old Aaron Tanner a received a life-saving double-transplant at the UCLA Medical Center

November 25, 2010 9:39:47 PM PST
It's a very special Thanksgiving for one Bay Area family, celebrating the gift of life for their young son.

Five-year-old Aaron Tanner is finally home, three months after receiving a life-saving double-transplant at the UCLA Medical Center.

"This is a very happy day for us," said Mark Tanner, Aaron's father. "A happy day for us to all be together as a family."

It's a holiday the family wasn't sure the boy would live to see. Eight months ago, Aaron was in desperate shape. Born with heart and kidney problems, he needed a rare double transplant to survive. His Spiderman backpack carried vital IV fluids.

"As the time went on, he was really deteriorating and we were having a lot of worry," said Aaron's mother Elizabeth Tanner.

All the Tanners could do was wait, knowing that as Aaron's health failed, the only thing that could save him was an organ donation from a family that would lose their own young child. The Tanners finally received the call they were waiting for on August 13, a heart and kidney were available for Aaron from an 8 year-old Oregon boy who died after a tragic accident.

"It was hard for it to sink in at first," said Elizabeth Tanner, "to believe that moment had finally arrived for him. And it was a little bit scary, thinking about what he was going to go through."

The Tanners rushed to Los Angeles for a delicate and grueling two-day series of operations on one tiny boy. "There were two different teams," said Mark Tanner. "There was a heart team. There was a kidney team."

And then, there were three months of recovery at UCLA, a time for Aaron to grow and regain the energy of a happy, healthy young boy.

With the joy of seeing Aaron healthy again, the Tanners also have to cope with mounting debt, more than a $1 million in medical bills their health insurance company hasn't paid.

"Right now is when all this stuff is pouring in and it's overwhelming to us," said Elizabeth Tanner. "We don't know how to deal with it really."

But that's for another day. This Thanksgiving is all about celebrating one special gift named Aaron.


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