Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center recently facilitated a transplant for a girl whose genetic condition meant she needed a new kidney.
For 2-year-old Hazel Niemitalo, Wake Forest’s Abdominal Organ Transplant Program, North Carolina’s largest kidney and pancreas transplant center, was instrumental in getting the much-needed transplant, according to a press release.
Last year, Hazel’s parents, Kenny and Maria Niemitalo, found out their daughter suffered from congenital nephrotic syndrome, which is a genetic condition that causes kidney defects. Hazel needed an immediate donor, so the couple posted messages on social media and talked to family and friends, the release said. Finding a match, however, was tough.
Kenny had been competing on NBC's "American Ninja Warrior," and in August 2016 his profile was broadcast. Amy Schlee was watching from her home in Oneonta, New York, when she saw his daughter needed a kidney transplant, the release said. She called Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to see if she could be a match.
“It’s hard to comprehend because we didn’t know her from Adam,” Maria Niemitalo said in the release. “She was a complete stranger who wanted to help.”
Schlee was a match. On Dec. 20, 2016, Hazel received Schlee’s kidney at the Abdominal Organ Transplant Program.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Schlee said in the press release. “I have no regrets, and I would encourage anyone to consider it.”