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'Bundle of hope': Father donating kidney to daughter to save her life

Hudson Ireland has dialysis nightly, and is scheduled to get a kidney transplant on Jan. 17, two days before her second birthday.

HOLLAND, Michigan — A Holland toddler has been battling a rare kidney disease since the day she was born. Now, she needs a kidney transplant to survive, and the person giving her a new one is her own dad.

Hudson Ireland isn't even two years old, but she's already battled more than most adults. "She's just a one-foot-tall bundle of hope," said Kendra Ireland, Hudson's mom. 

For months after she was born, Hudson seemed to be perpetually sick, especially with severely red, puffy eyes.

"I just knew something was wrong," said Kendra, "and that this was definitely something more than just a normal sickness."

At just nine months old, Hudson was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder called Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome. 

"It was a very big day, almost like when she was born," Kendra said, "like such a surreal moment with a lot of doctors in the room, wondering if this was really happening."

According to hopkinsmedicine.org, it's a disorder that deals with protein in the urine and swelling of the body, and it commonly results in infection, malnutrition and kidney failure. It can often lead to death by five years of age.

"She is also high-risk for blod clotting, high blood pressure, and her immune system is very compromised," Kendra explained.

"Unfortunately it's incurable," she explained. "The only semi-cure is a kidney transplant." And in order for any new kidney to remain healthy, she'd need to have both of her kidneys removed because the disorder could spread to even a transplant. 

Kendra and Hudson's father, Cody, faced a tough reality. Almost a year ago, little Hudson had her first kidney removed.

"She's just been so inspiring," Kendra said. "She didn't know what was happening, but she did so good."

"Helen DeVos Children's Hospital took great care of us the entire time," she added, "all the nurses, and Hudson's nephrologist Dr. Goebel, were all amazing."

Hudson's recovery went smoothly, and thing were going well, but within a few months, it was clear she would need a second nephrectomy. 

"We wanted to wait and give her her summer so she could have some fun," Kendra said, "and let her have one last summer in the water because we knew how much she loved it."

Hudson's second kidney was removed right after Thanksgiving of 2022. 

"That one was a lot harder on her body than what we anticipated," Kendra said. 

Along with a more difficult recovery, shortly after she went home, Hudson's incision started to re-open. Kendra described her as constantly lethargic. 

"It was kind of pulling at the heartstrings a little bit seeing her like that," Kendra said. "It definitely got really hard for us to keep looking at the light at the end of the tunnel."

Thankfully, her wound healed. 

"She's been doing a lot better, and she's definitely a little bit more herself," said Kendra. "Her little spunky personality is coming back."

Hudson now has dialysis nightly, and is scheduled to get a kidney transplant on Jan. 17, two days before her second birthday.

And the donor? Her very own dad, Cody. 

The process isn't easy, as Kendra explained that Cody has had to go through just as much, if not more, testing and treatments as Hudson in order to be approved as a donor. 

"Were kind of on the edge of our seats for weeks and weeks and weeks," Kendra said, "and when he was approved it was just one huge sigh of relief for us."

Kendra explained that living donor kidneys are good for 15-20 years after donation. But they've already got a plan for that too. 

"She'll need another transplant unfortunately," Kendra said, "but then I'll go through the process and all of the testing and see if the transplant committee will approve me for donation."

"We've done the best that we could with what we were given," she added, "and we've been hopeful that in the next year and in the years to come, that she'll have as close to a normal childhood as she can, and we'll make sure that she does."

If you'd like to show your support for little Hudson, and help her celebrate her upcoming second birthday, her family is hosting a drive-by parade on Saturday, Jan. 7.  

Cars are meeting at the Rose Park Christian School at noon and will then pass by Hudson and her family waving and wishing her well. You can read more details by clicking here.

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