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Six months after transplant – fourth-grader is thriving

Patient Story

She appeared to be an active, healthy little girl but when Kelsey Beck’s parents took her in for a well child visit, they learned she had advanced kidney disease. Her kidneys were failing; she needed a transplant.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

It’s been six months since Kelsey Beck received the gift of life – a new kidney from her mom, Kristin. For the first time in her young life she is “cord free” – no dialysis, no IV.

It’s the little things that her mom notices about her healthy daughter – all the “firsts.” This is the first time the fourth-grader at Whiteland Elementary School has been able to shower without protecting her dialysis port. And this is the first Christmas morning that Kelsey was the first one up because she was not connected to peritoneal dialysis.

Kelsey was born by cesarean delivery on Aug. 13, 2009 – a healthy 10-pound baby – the second child of Kristin and Clint Beck. Early on when Kelsey showed signs of low muscle tone and delayed speech her parents sought intervention. And when they noticed visual impairments at the age of six months, they took their daughter to an eye doctor where she was prescribed glasses. Otherwise, she appeared to be healthy and happy. It was during a routine check-up on Sept. 27, 2017 that doctors discovered Kelsey’s kidneys weren’t functioning at capacity. She was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney disease and was rushed to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

Dialysis followed and both parents were tested as a potential kidney donor match. Doctors decided her mother was the best fit and on Aug. 1, 2019 – just two weeks before her 10th birthday, Kelsey and her mother became patients at IU Health. Kristin Beck entered an operating room at IU Health University Hospital under the care of Dr. Andrew Lutz and Dr. John Powelson. Kelsey was in the OR at Riley Hospital under the care of transplant surgeon Dr. William Goggins.

Showing her sense of humor, Kelsey named her new kidney “Pee Tea.” Since transplant surgery she has embraced the life of a typical 10-year-old. Two months after surgery she put on a gold sequined dress with cream-colored tulle skirt and attended the National Kidney Foundation banquet where her doctor William Goggins was honored for his work in transplant surgery. Kelsey’s mom was at her side.

“She’s got a new sense of freedom,” said her mom. “She loves to cook – especially making pancakes and waffles, and chocolate chip muffins. She takes part in a Saturday bowling league and she can finally enjoy sleepovers with her friends now that she isn’t dependent on dialysis.”

She’s also grown since surgery. Her parents estimate she has gained 15-20 pounds and has lost two teeth.

Their goals now: Coaxing Kelsey to drink two and half liters of water a day and get her ready to return to school.

“Since surgery her teacher has come to the house every day for an hour to help her keep up with curriculum,” said her mom. “She’s ready to go back to school and be with her friends.”

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Mother-daughter bond – It’s a kidney match - It was a routine well child check-up that showed Kelsey Beck needed a new kidney. Both of her parents were tested and her mom was the one doctors believed to be the best match.

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